Littlejohn Coliseum may not be known as an impossible place to pick up a road win — Clemson has lost five home games this season — but for Georgia Tech it is a house of horrors. The Yellow Jackets dropped to 1-16 in their last 17 games at Clemson with a loss on Wednesday night.
Georgia Tech looked like the better team for much of the night though. They held a six point lead at halftime (33-27) thanks to balanced scoring with seven players scoring three or more and none over 7 points.
Chase Hunter was coming off his two best collegiate performances setting a career-high in points with 21 and then breaking it with 23 in the next contest. Georgia Tech held him to 0-4 shooting and zero points in the first half. Fortunately, David Collins scored 13 points to keep Clemson from falling too far behind.
The two teams traded blows after halftime until Georgia Tech went on a 9-0 run to take control of the game with just under 14 minutes remaining. With the lead ballooned to 13 points it seemed Georgia Tech would salt this one away, but the Yellow Jackets are the last place team in the ACC for a reason and the Tigers showed some grit and pride.
Clemson remained in man-to-man defense, which was largely ineffective, but the Tiger offense started picking up steam. Trailing by 11 with 8:23 remaining, the Tigers went on a run. Schieffelin hit a lay-up. Dawes knocked down a 3-pointer. Bohannon and Collins added a lay-ups and another Dawes 3-ball pushed the run to 12-0. Clemson took their first lead of the half at 56-55 with 5:12 remaining.
Georgia Tech responded with a 5-0 spurt and from there the teams went back and forth in what turned into an exciting final five minutes.
Chase Hunter made his first field goal of the game, a 3-pointer, with 4:03 left to play. He then assisted Naz Bohannon with a beautiful no-look pass that Bohannon turned into a smooth lay-up to give Clemson the lead back.
Neither defense could get a stop down the stretch. After Tech took a 1-point lead with 1:18 to go, David Collins made a lay-up to give Clemson a 1-point lead. Georgia Tech promptly tied it. Naz Bohannon continued to make his mark on the game on Clemson’s final possession. Coming out of a timeout, Georgia Tech settled into a 1-3-1 zone defense. Clemson passed the ball around the top of the key for most of the shot clock. The offense was stagnant and they were in trouble. The ball eventually found Bohannon and with the shot clock winding down, he used a spin move to create some space and went up strong for the lay-in. The ball rattled in and the whistle blew. He headed to the line and added one more point to put Clemson up three with 14.6 seconds left.
Knowing they only had to defend the 3, Clemson’s defense finally game up with a stop and it was just enough. Georgia Tech’s three-point attempt was an air ball and the Tigers secured the home victory, 68-65.
Clemson’s David Collins led all scorers with 19 points while Georgia Tech’s Michael DeVoe led the Yellow Jackets with 15. Naz Bohannon scored 9 points and played extremely well down the stretch. Hunter Tyson returned from a broken clavicle to chip in 8 points off the bench. Dawes made two huge 3-pointers late in the game, but otherwise struggled. He finished 3-10 with 8 points, 0 assists, and a turnover.
The win pushes Clemson to 7-12 in the ACC. They are locked into a 10-15th seed in the ACC Tournament which means they will have to play on the first day of the tournament, something rarely necessary during Brownell’s tenure. Fortunately, the most likely opponent is either NC State, who is currently sitting in 14th or Georgia Tech again who is in dead last. Either would provide a fun rivalry matchup on the ACC tournament’s first day.