Stitt plays with a chip on his shoulder, lifts Tigers over Hokies


by - Senior Writer -
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Jerai Grant scored 17 points, had nine rebounds and four blocked shots on his Senior Day.

AUDIO: Brad Brownell postgame press conference

CLEMSON – Senior guard Demontez Stitt said that he took particular delight in playing against – and winning – Virginia Tech’s Malcolm Delaney.

Stitt said that he thinks there are players around the league who garner a tremendous amount of respect, and he likes to play against those more-heralded players with a chip on his shoulder.

On Saturday, he did just that and the rest of his teammates followed suit.

Stitt scored 15 points, grabbed five rebounds and dished out five assists in 38 minutes of play, leading the Tigers to a physical 69-60 victory over Delaney and Virginia Tech in Littlejohn Coliseum Saturday afternoon, giving the Tigers a fourth-place finish in the ACC regular season and a first-day bye in next week’s ACC Tournament.

The win also gives Clemson (20-10 overall, 9-7 ACC) 20 victories for the sixth consecutive season.

Stitt said he takes it personal when playing in games like Saturday’s

“It's motivation. You see other players at the top of the conference and they get a lot more than you do, not in terms of media, but they get a little more respect in the conference,” he said. “You get a chip on your shoulder and that's what you play with.”

“I play with guys that they say are at the top of the conference, especially guards, and I take that as a personal challenge. Clemson has never been one of those teams that's gotten a lot of respect around the conference. I think these last four years, we've gained respect. I think with Coach Brownell being here we've gained respect around the conference.”

Brownell said he was happy to get the win.

“Certainly it was a great win for our guys. I’m happy for our seniors,” Brownell said. “Those guys are always special, but it’s challenging sometimes to battle your emotions and play well, especially with the added significance of it being for fourth place in the league and a chance to keep our NCAA hopes alive. I thought we played pretty well. Defensively, I thought we were outstanding. Offensively, we had some turnovers that bother you, but we did execute.”

The teams played a sometimes frantic, always physical first half that saw the Tigers grab a 34-30 lead at the break.

The Tigers rolled out to a 24-9 lead when Demontez Stitt, on a pass back out to the perimeter from Grant, hit a 3-pointer with 9:51 left in the half.

Hokie head coach Seth Greenberg called a full timeout to settle his team down, and the strategy worked as the Hokies went on a 9-0 run over the next three minutes. The lead would fluctuate between four and six points until the break.

The Tigers held a 39-35 lead early in the second when they went on a 10-0 run, highlighted by a Grant dunk to end the run with Clemson holding a 49-35 lead.

The Hokies eventually worked the deficit down to seven points – at 51-44 – but the Tigers went on another run, this one fueled by a tenacious defense and a Littlejohn crowd that waited until the final half of the season to be at its’ loudest.

Tanner Smith started the run with two free throws, Grant hit a layup on a nice flip pass from Young and Stitt hit two free throws to make at 57-44. Twenty-five seconds later, Smith got his hand on a ball in the lane, and Grant fought for possession and hit Smith – streaking down the court – with a pass that Smith turned into a dunk and a 59-44 lead, bringing the home crowd to its feet.

As usual, the Hokies again fought back, and Malcolm Delaney’s 3-pointer from the top of the key made it 61-54 Tigers with just over two minutes remaining. Demontez Stitt took the inbounds pass and drove over Delaney for a layup, but was called for a technical foul as he let Delaney know he scored.

“Delaney hit both free throws to make it 63-56, and from there it became a free throw contest as Clemson hit 6-of-8 from the charity stripe down the stretch to seal the victory.

Stitt said he couldn’t repeat what he was saying to Delaney on the baseline.

“That can't be repeated. It's a heated battle,” he said. “Once you think you are better than another player and they think they are better you, people start talking. It's part of the game. It's just something that happened. It's the first time that I've gotten a technical. I was surprised they gave it to me. We had been going back and forth the entire game.”

Greenberg said his team played well after the poor start, but said Clemson’s defense was the difference.

“We didn’t shoot the ball well and a lot of that has to do with their defense,” Greenberg said. “We had some open looks, we just didn’t finish. They did a good job protecting the front of the rim. In the second half, I thought we ran good offense, but we just weren’t able to get a stop at that point. We had possessions where we would play great defense, but as the shot clock expired, Demontez made a three in the corner. We also had a lot of looks we didn’t finish. You have to give Clemson a lot of credit.”

Next up for Clemson is a Friday game in Greensboro at the ACC Tournament, where a win – or two – would help their NCAA Tournament chances.

Brownell said he thinks his team deserves a chance at the Big Dance.

“I certainly think we’ve played pretty doggone well here,” he said. “I know that all the games in November and December count too, and those are some of the ones that are hurting us. We’re completely different now than we were. All those games where you evaluate yourself against other teams in other leagues, all that has been over for six or eight weeks, so it’s hard for your leagues to move or change. But we’re playing pretty well and we have a pretty competitive group.”


VISITORS: Virginia Tech 19-10, 9-7
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
00 Allen, Jeff......... f  1-5    0-0    7-9    2  3  5   2   9  1  8  0  2  36
01 Bell, Terrell....... f  3-9    2-4    2-2    5  6 11   4  10  1  0  0  2  35
14 Davila, Victor...... f  3-6    0-0    0-0    3  1  4   1   6  2  2  3  0  30
11 Green, Erick........ g  2-13   1-5    2-2    2  2  4   3   7  2  2  0  4  33
23 Delaney, Malcolm.... g  5-14   2-6    7-10   0  3  3   5  19  2  3  1  3  39
21 Garland, Tyrone.....    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   1   0  1  2  0  0   3
25 Atkins, Manny.......    4-12   1-5    0-0    2  2  4   3   9  0  0  0  3  23
32 Debnam, Paul........    0-0    0-0    0-0    1  0  1   0   0  0  1  0  0   1
   TEAM................                         2  1  3
   Totals..............   18-59   6-20  18-23  17 18 35  19  60  9 18  4 14 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half:  9-22 40.9%   2nd Half:  9-37 24.3%   Game: 30.5%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  3-6  50.0%   2nd Half:  3-14 21.4%   Game: 30.0%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  9-12 75.0%   2nd Half:  9-11 81.8%   Game: 78.3%    2


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
HOME TEAM: Clemson 20-10, 9-7
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
31 Booker, Devin....... f  4-7    1-2    5-6    1  4  5   3  14  3  2  1  0  24
45 Grant, Jerai........ f  8-13   0-0    1-3    1  8  9   3  17  3  5  4  1  33
02 Stitt, Demontez..... g  4-7    3-5    4-6    1  4  5   4  15  5  4  2  0  38
05 Smith, Tanner....... g  2-3    0-1    4-4    1  4  5   2   8  0  3  0  1  29
11 Young, Andre........ g  4-9    3-6    0-0    1  2  3   4  11  6  0  0  1  32
03 Anderson, Zavier....    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  2  2   1   0  1  3  0  2  11
04 Baize, Jonah........    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0  0+
12 Stanton, Cory.......    0-2    0-1    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0   5
21 Narcisse, Bryan.....    2-3    0-1    0-0    1  0  1   2   4  1  0  0  1  13
24 Jennings, Milton....    0-5    0-1    0-0    2  2  4   3   0  0  1  0  0  15
   TEAM................                            1  1
   Totals..............   24-49   7-17  14-19   8 27 35  22  69 19 18  7  6 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 13-29 44.8%   2nd Half: 11-20 55.0%   Game: 49.0%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  5-12 41.7%   2nd Half:  2-5  40.0%   Game: 41.2%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  3-4  75.0%   2nd Half: 11-15 73.3%   Game: 73.7%    4


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Officials: Bryan Kersey, Tim Nestor, Raymond Styons
Technical fouls: Virginia Tech-None. Clemson-Stitt, Demontez; Smith, Tanner.
Attendance: 10000
Score by Periods                1st  2nd   Total
Virginia Tech.................   30   30  -   60
Clemson.......................   34   35  -   69

Points in the paint-VT 22,CU 30. Points off turnovers-VT 17,CU 11.
2nd chance points-VT 13,CU 8. Fast break points-VT 6,CU 8.
Bench points-VT 9,CU 4. Score tied-0 times. Lead changed-0 times.
Last FG-VT 2nd-00:21, CU 2nd-01:35.
Largest lead-VT None, CU by 15 1st-09:52.

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