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Jennings' career-high leads Clemson to 77-70 victory over VT


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Brad Brownell post-game press conference
Milton Jennings post-game press comments
Damarcus Harrison post-game press comments
VT's James Johnson post-game press conference

CLEMSON, SC - Clemson received career-high scoring efforts out of Milton JenningsMilton Jennings
Sr. Forward
#24 6-9, 225
Summerville, SC

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(28) and Damarcus HarrisonDamarcus Harrison
So. Guard
#21 6-4, 200
Greenwood, SC

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(19) to propel the Tigers to a 77-70 victory on Sunday over Virginia Tech in front of 7,980 fans at Littlejohn Coliseum. The win improved the Tigers to 11-8 overall, 3-4 in ACC play. Tech fell to 11-8 overall and 2-4 in the league.

Jennings added 14 rebounds to tie a career-high in that category. The 6-foot-9 Jennings went to the line 18 times and made 16 free throws - the most by any Clemson player since the late Butch Zatezalo made 16 against Wake Forest in 1969. It tied for the second-most made in school history. Zatezalo made all 17 attempts versus Maryland in 1968.

“I am really happy for Milton because he has worked very hard," said Clemson head coach Brad BrownellBrad Brownell
Head Coach
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. "I have said many times I think he is criticized probably more than he should be. In games like today, he was the difference-maker. If he misses a couple of those free throws, then the game turns. I was really pleased for him.”

Harrison scored 19 points in Sunday's game, eclipsing his previous high of 15 against SC State last month. The sophomore made 6-of-10 shots, including 3-of-7 from long distance. Clemson made 10-of-21 three-point baskets, its most since making 12 against UTEP in the Old Spice Classic in November.

“Damarcus has shot the ball very well in practice, in fact, just yesterday he made three three-pointers," said Brownell. "When he first got here, he was so out of shape and consequently, he was not shooting well. I left him alone, but it wasn’t improving. We decided to work with him on his shooting, and it’s very good to see his hard work pay off. Confidence in games is the most important thing. Positive playing experiences make you grow as a player. For Harrison to play well throughout the course of the game and during crunch time was very good to see."

The Tigers shot 45 percent for the game, but converted an ACC-high 23-of-29 at the charity stripe - a season-high 79.3 percent for Clemson. Virginia Tech shot just 35 percent from the field, but made 23-of-32 at the line. The Tigers won the rebounding battle, 42-33, as both Jennings and starting center Devin BookerDevin Booker
Sr. Forward
#31 6-8, 250
Whitmire, SC

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(10) had double-digit totals. Booker was under the weather with flu-like symptoms for a second straight game.

Clemson jumped out to a 12-0 lead after forcing Virginia Tech into an 0-for-10 start from the field. Four different players scored in the run, including McDaniels, who buried a pair of threes from the left wing to make it a 12-point cushion. Green stopped the bleed with five straight points before Jarell Eddie hit a couple of freebies to cut the lead to 16-7.

Marquis Rankin cut the deficit to seven at 21-14 with his ninth made three-pointer of the season, but Rod HallRod Hall
So. Guard
#4 6-1, 210
Augusta, GA

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answered on the other end with a three. Eddie and Christian Beyer connected on consecutive trips to cut the lead to 26-20 before Jordan RoperJordan Roper
Fr. Guard
#20 5-11, 165
Columbia, SC

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responded with a long-range shot of his own.

Green scored 10 out of the Hokies' 12 points in a 12-2 run to pull Tech even with the Tigers at 33 apiece at intermission.

Eddie's long trey gave Tech its first lead at 36-35 a minute into the second frame. Back-to-back threes by McDaniels and Harrison went to give Clemson a 41-39 lead, but Rankin buried his second trifecta to quiet the crowd moments later. After a Harrison jumper and a stop on the defensive end, McDaniels soared through the air on a Booker miss for a putback slam to give the Tigers a 45-42 edge.


Clemson led 50-47 when Tiger Head Coach Brad Brownell was whistled for the first technical foul of his career. The Hokies knotted the game a minute later when Eddie made two of three free from the line after being fouled on the wing. The tie was broken with Harrison's second trey inside the nine minute mark. Jennings scored on a putback to make it 55-52 and followed by taking a charge by Green on the opposite end.

McDaniels stroked his fifth three of the game to push the lead to 58-54, but Eddie answered with a three-point play to pull VT within one. Brown followed with a driving layup to give the Hokies their first lead in a long while at 59-58, prompting a Brownell timeout with 4:25 left. The lead built to four a 64-60 on Harrison's 17th points.

Jennings followed with a 10-footer to make it 66-62 with 1:55 remaining. Ahead four, Eddie tried a drive through the lane but McDaniels rose up for a rejection to end the Tech threat. Green missed a three inside the final minute that allowed the lead to stretch to seven, and he made a pair of layups to close Tech within four. But Jennings had an answer with a block and rebound inside the final 15 seconds to all but end the game.

“I knew they would play us in a lot of zone, definitely more than we have seen this year," said Brownell. "When they pack it in as much as they do, then shots from the outside are going to open up. Obviously that will also take away some of Booker’s looks, but I was happy to see that we made those rhythm shots that you have to make against a zone.”

The Tigers stay at home to take on Georgia Tech in two days. The Tigers and Yellow Jackets will tip off at 7:00 PM Tuesday at Littlejohn Coliseum. Tickets are available at ClemsonTigers.com and by calling 1-800-CLEMSON.

Notes

• Clemson’s 77 points against Virginia Tech were the most scored by the Tigers against an ACC foe since Feb. 11, 2012 when it had 78 in a win at Wake Forest.
• Clemson made 10-of-21 from three-point range – its second-highest total from behind the arc this season. The Tigers’ season-best was 12 makes against UTEP in the second round of the Old Spice Classic over Thanksgiving.
• The Tigers made 23 free throws on Sunday, their second-highest figure of the season. Clemson’s high total was 27 in a win at South Carolina on Dec. 2.
• Clemson committed just nine turnovers Sunday, the seventh time this season the Tigers have had single-digit turnovers.
• The Tigers blocked nine shots Sunday, the fifth time this season Clemson has blocked at least eight in a single game.
• Clemson is now 8-2 in Littlejohn Coliseum against Virginia Tech.
• Clemson Head Coach Brad Brownell was assessed his first technical foul in 336 career games. The Tigers received the bench technical at the 10:14 mark of the second half.
• Milton Jennings established a career-high with 28 points Sunday. He made 6-of-12 field goals and 16-of-18 at the free throw line.
• The 16 free throws were the most made by any Clemson player since the late Butch Zatezalo also made 16 against Wake Forest in the 1968-69 season.
• The 18 free throw attempts were the most by any Tiger since Chris Hobbs attempted 19 against Wake Forest on Feb. 13, 2002 – a game that went into three overtime periods.
• Jennings’ 28 points were the most by any Tiger this season, eclipsing fellow senior Devin Booker’s 27 at NC State. They were the most by a Clemson player since Andre Young had 29 against Georgia Tech last season.
• Jennings tied a career-high with 14 rebounds – the same total he had in a double-double effort in 2011-12 versus Furman.
• Jennings established a career-high with four blocked shots Sunday. His previous high had been three, including as recently as Thursday at Florida State.
• Jennings played all 40 minutes Sunday, the most minutes of his career.
• Booker was held to three points Sunday, a season-low for the Tigers’ leading scorer. It snapped a six-game double-figure scoring streak.
• Booker had 10 rebounds, the third time in seven ACC games he has reached double figures on the boards.
• Damarcus Harrison established a career-high Sunday with 19 points. His previous high was 15 in a win over SC State last December.
• Harrison tied season-highs for both field goals (6) and three-pointers (3) made, both coming against SC State.
• Harrison played a career-high 34 minutes on Sunday.
• K.J. McDaniels tied a career-high with 17 points and set a career-high with five made three-pointers. His previous high was four against UTEP, the same team he also scored 17 against earlier this season for his career-high.
• McDaniels has now had at least one blocked shot in nine consecutive games. He established the Clemson career record for blocks by players 6-foot-6 or shorter with 60. He did it in 79 fewer games than the previous record-holder Sam Perry.
• Rod Hall made his second three-pointer of the season and is now 6-for-9 (.667) in his career behind the arc.


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