If the Tech men’s basketball team carried any momentum forward from its road upset of Syracuse over the weekend, it faded quickly. The Jackets stumbled badly out of the gate at Clemson on Wednesday night, allowing the host Tigers to open up a 14-0 lead, and guard Marcquise Reed scored a career-high 30 points to lead Clemson to a 72-60 victory.
The loss dropped Tech to 10-7 overall and 2-2 in ACC play, while Clemson picked up its first ACC win, improving to 11-6 overall with a 1-3 conference record. It also marked the 14th straight loss for Tech at Littlejohn Coliseum; the last time the Jackets picked up a road win against Clemson was during the 2004-05 season.
Clemson’s scoring barrage began early, with Reed scoring nine points to power the early 14-0 run. Reed continued to rattle off baskets and, upon drawing a foul from Tech point guard Jose Alvarado on a three-point attempt, drained all three free throws to balloon the lead to 27-8. However, the Jackets were able to stop the bleeding and close the gap just before halftime, going on a 10-0 run that featured three-pointers by guards Jose Alvarado and Curtis Haywood. Thanks to that late run, Tech went into the break down 35-30 and seemed to have something to build on for the second half.
But when the latter half arrived, Clemson took control once more, rattling off seven unanswered points to widen their lead. Tech could never put together a run after that; for a span of over 12 minutes in the second half, Clemson held a double-digit lead, allowing Tech to close to within nine points only at the three-minute mark. The Tigers played stout defense, preventing Tech from working the ball inside, and Tech’s guards struggled to hit shots from the perimeter.
The Jackets made a late push in those final minutes thanks in large part to forward James Banks, who finally got some room to work and delivered a series of highlight-reel dunks to keep Tech within striking distance. But Tech was never able to get any closer than within eight points. The Tigers took advantage of mistakes and their guards hit their free throws down the stretch, enabling them to keep the visiting Jackets at arm’s length en route to a 72-60 final score.
Banks led scoring for Tech with 16 points—including 10 in the final 3:10 of the contest—and added four blocks. Alvarado added 10 points and a team-high five rebounds. Reed was the star for Clemson with a career-high 30 points, 19 of which came in the first half, and forward Elijah Thomas added 11 points and nine rebounds. As a team, the Tigers shot 50.9 percent from the field, including 43.8 percent from long range; both were unusually high marks against a Tech squad that has been effective on the defensive end this season.
The Jackets will look to get back above .500 in ACC play against Louisville on Saturday in Atlanta.