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Tigers hang on for win over Georgia Tech


  by - Senior Writer - Tuesday, January 29, 2013 11:16 PM
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CLEMSON - K.J. McDanielsK.J. McDaniels
So. Forward
#32 6-6, 200
Birmingham, AL

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knew the Clemson Tigers would need a strong effort from almost every player on the roster Tuesday night, but it was McDaniels himself who saved the day.

McDaniels scored 15 points, including two foul shots with 16 seconds left, as the Tigers held on to defeat Georgia Tech 63-60, the second win in three days for a weary Clemson team that was also playing its fourth game in just nine days.

The win was also Clemson’s sixth straight victory over the Yellow Jackets.

The Tigers (12-8, 4-4 ACC) held an 11-point lead early in the second half, but the Yellow Jackets (11-8, 1-6) pushed the temp and began to chip away as the Tigers began to fatigue. The Tigers missed the front end of a 1-and-1, and when Mfon Udofia made a free throw with 17.2 seconds left, Clemson's lead had shrunk to 61-60.

The ball was inbounded to McDaniels, who was promptly fouled by Udofia. McDaniels stepped to the line and calmly sank both shots to give Clemson the three point lead at 63-60. The Yellow Jackets had a chance to tie, but Brandon Reed's 3-point attempt was off the mark and the weary Tigers were able to celebrate the win.

“We knew that everybody had to step up tonight,” McDaniels said after the game. “Everybody was tired, but we knew we had to get the win on our home court. At the end of the game, I knew I couldn’t let my teammates down. We had worked too hard. I knew I had to make those shots.”

Clemson head coach Brad BrownellBrad Brownell
Head Coach
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called the win a “gutsy” one.

“It was a really gutsy performance by my guys. We knew Georgia Tech was going to come in here ready to play and with a lot of confidence after the way they played against Wake,” Brownell said. “They came out firing and I thought we were maybe a half step slow the first few minutes. I thought our defense the last 30-35 minutes was really good. Offensively, it was really good to just get production from a bunch of different guys. I told our guys yesterday that I was going to play every guy in the first half and that we would need our bench and our post players that don’t play as much to step up, especially defensively.”

Senior Devin BookerDevin Booker
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#31 6-8, 250
Whitmire, SC

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was still battling the effects of the flu –he was running a temperature of 103 two days ago – and Milton JenningsMilton Jennings
Sr. Forward
#24 6-9, 225
Summerville, SC

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struggled with his shot. Booker, the team's leading scorer, was 3-of-10 shooting for eight points while Jennings followed up his career-high 28 points against Virginia Tech on Sunday by going 4-for-12. He managed nine points and nine rebounds before fouling out.

Brownell said it was a game his team had to win.

“We needed to win a game like this. Obviously when we lost a tough one like Florida State it really hurt,” he said. “And, NC State too for that matter. We were right there. To steal one in an unbelievable environment there would have been awesome, but to be able to come back twice like we have and hold tough, and winning our two home games, was huge for us. We are still trying to learn how to win and how to do things. A lot of guys in our program have to learn how to make big plays. Those were big free throws from KJ at the end. He had the ball at the end against Florida State and the potential to make a play and he really didn’t do it. Those guys have to realize they are the guys. You can’t always get the ball to Book. As much as you want to, that’s not always going to be an option. Milt isn’t a guy who creates as much, so those other guys need to step up to win some games. They need to make plays at the end of games. Today, it was free throws, which was good. It’s a learning experience for all of the young guys.”

Georgia Tech hit three early 3-pointers and made eight of its first 10 shots to open a 20-10 early in the first half. Clemson looked lethargic to open the game, but tightened up defensively and closed the half on a 26-10 run.


McDaniels started the run with a jumper. Freshman Jordan RoperJordan Roper
Fr. Guard
#20 5-11, 165
Columbia, SC

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hit two outside shots to cut the lead to 26-24, and three minutes later, McDaniels had a 3-pointer and an inside shot to put the Tigers up for the first time, 31-30.

Damarcus HarrisonDamarcus Harrison
So. Guard
#21 6-4, 200
Greenwood, SC

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had a 3-pointer and McDaniels closed the run with a layup and Clemson went to the half ahead 36-30, closing on a 10-0 run.

Brownell credited McDaniels with stepping up his game when the Tigers needed him most.

“He still has a long way to go. He has a very good ceiling,” he said. “He will be a better player when he’s 26 or 27 and he’s more in to his body and more mature as a player, because he’s still very young as a perimeter player. It’s going to take a lot of time for him to get truly comfortable. He’s uncomfortable on defense sometimes and even gets caught up in screens sometimes and gets turned around. Sometimes he makes up for it with a huge dunk and other times he doesn’t. He shows unbelievable upside. He can affect the game in many ways. He’s got to get better in transition.”

The Tigers return to action on Saturday, facing Boston College in Chestnut Hill in a noon tipoff.

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