Do you miss the team who tensed up in tight games? Who couldn't seem to make a stop when it mattered? I sure don't. I dismissed this team when they fell down 18 points with less than ten minutes left, but they didn't give up. They started giving it to Marcus Georges-Hunt and just letting him drive and pick up fouls. Adam Smith made some absolutely huge shots. When MGH was struggling early in the game, he was the main guy keeping this offense going at all. Georges-Hunt made two free throws to tie it with just 13 seconds left in the game. Clemson took their time getting the ball up the court and ended up settling for an acrobatic layup attempt that didn't even come close. In overtime, it was James White who gave Tech the lead with 4 straight points off of tip ins. Nick Jacobs then made a layup to give Tech an 86-81 lead with 4 minutes left. Jordan Roper promptly responded with a big dunk and Marcus Georges-Hunt got called for a charge on the next possession. Then both teams went cold, with only a Jaron Blossomgame layup on a fantastic drive breaking up the misses. The Tigers got the ball with 50 seconds left down 86-85, got Blossomgame in a good matchup against Quinton Stephens, and let Blossomgame do his thing. But this time Q played fantastic defense and Blossomgame missed the runner. Jacobs grabbed the rebound and shoveled it MGH who was fouled with 16 seconds left. As usual, Georges-Hunt drained his free throws and some confusion ensued. The refs thought Clemson called a timeout, but they didn't, so play went on, the Tigers wasted 6 seconds getting the ball up the floor and THEN called a timeout. This was the second end game situation when Clemson wasted precious time that would have come in handy. With ten seconds left, the best shot they could get was a heavily contested Gabe DeVoe corner three that hit the side of the backboard and went out of bounds with 1.7 seconds left. After Josh Heath nearly threw the ball away, the Jackets easily inbounded the ball down the floor to hang on for the win.
Marcus Georges-Hunt only scored four points in the first half and only had one basket early in the second half. Yet, he ended up with 28 points. He only shot 6-16 from the field but was 15/16 (93.75%!!!!) from the line. He was incredible in the second half and overtime. And what about Adam Smith? He went 8-16 for 23 points including a huge 4-7 from three. Or what about Nick Jacobs who was his usual self on the low block on the way to 12 points? Or what about James White who was 4-4 and had 5 offensive, two of them putbacks to give GT the lead in overtime? This team needed big performances from several players and got them. In the first half, Georgia Tech was loose with the ball and had 10 turnovers. In the second half and overtime, the Jackets were stingy with the ball and only had two turnovers combined. They stopped giving Clemson free possessions and it showed. Georgia Tech once again asserted itself on the glass grabbing more than 50% of available offensive rebounds. That is an insane number and a huge reason why Tech won. Credit goes to White and Charles Mitchell especially who had five offensive rebounds apiece.
At one point, Clemson was shooting 10-22 from three point land. From then on out, they missed their final seven attempts. They just needed one shot to fall, but they could not get it. As usual Jaron Blossomgame had a fantastic game, with 22 points on 7-16 shooting and 7-9 from the line. He spent much of the game in foul trouble and ended up fouling out following his missed shot late in overtime. Avry Holmes had one of the best games of his career and ended with 19 points on 8-16 shooting. He was a force in the first half and was a major part of Clemson's huge lead. Sidy Djitte played huge minutes off the bench and ended with 13 points on 5-9 shooting. Jordan Roper came on strong late in the game and ended with 10 points. They played well offensively early, but looked like they thought they had the game in the bag and stopped pushing so hard. When they tried to turn it on again, it did not work.
A big factor in this game was foul trouble. Clemson starting center Llandry Nnoko got two fouls in the first two minutes of the game and ended with no points and 3 rebounds because he fouled whenever he got into the game. Blossomgame spent much of the game in foul trouble after he picked up his second late in the first half. Djitte came in for Nnoko and stayed relatively clean for a while but ended up actually fouling out in regulation. Donte Grantham also spent most of the game in foul trouble. It wasn't only a Clemson problem. Mitchell fouled out for Georgia Tech. Marcus Georges-Hunt spent the last 3:30 on thin ice with 4 fouls. Adam Smith played the entirety of overtime with 4 fouls. Both teams had issues with foul trouble, but Georgia Tech's depth helped them deal with the problem with minimal effect on their performance.
Clemson heads home to hope the NIT committee overlooks their atrocious RPI due to their big wins, while the Yellow Jackets get another shot at knocking off #3/4 Virginia in the third round of the ACC tournament. The Yellow Jackets beat the Cavaliers at McCamish in their only meeting this season. This game happens tomorrow at 7 pm on ESPN. Hopefully the boys rest up after a tough game tonight! Go Jackets!