Tigers complete sweep of Jackets, reach record 9-1 at halftime in ACC play
PJ Hall was again a big contributor in the Tigers win. (Photo by Merrell Mann)

Tigers complete sweep of Jackets, reach record 9-1 at halftime in ACC play

by - Staff Writer -

CLEMSON - The 2022-23 Clemson men’s basketball team came into Tuesday night at Littlejohn Coliseum with the best six-, seven-, eight- and nine-game conference starts in school history.

A 72-51 win over Georgia Tech gave the team the sole best league start through 10 contests as well, improving to 9-1 and taking a 1.5-game lead on second-place Virginia.

"That's why I came here," senior Tigers guard and Anderson native Brevin Galloway said. "I believed in the team from the jump when I looked at the roster when I was in the transfer portal and trying to decide schools. I figured I might as well come home and make history."

The Tigers were again down two starters from much of the season with Chase Hunter (foot) and Alex Hemenway (foot), and Chase’s younger brother and freshman Dillon stepped in for his first career start after a productive 23 minutes in the win against Virginia Tech on Saturday.

No. 23/24 Clemson (17-4, 9-1 ACC) roared out of the gates with a 15-2 lead four minutes into the game but things settled into a single-digit margin not longer after.

The Yellow Jackets (8-12, 1-9) cut the advantage down to three points, but back-to-back 3-pointers from freshman Chauncey Wiggins and Galloway quelled the comeback.

"That was definitely important because basketball is a game of runs. Obviously we got off to a hot start," Galloway said, "But we knew Georgia Tech was going to bounce back and hit us with some fire. After that, we had to obviously weather the storm and bounce back and hit some shots to extend the lead and get the crowd involved and have a pretty decent lead at halftime."

With Clemson up 37-28 at the break, Galloway scored a team-best 12 points, knocking down three treys in all, while Wiggins scored nine. Emerging first-team All-ACC candidate Hunter Tyson was contained to three points after picking up a pair of quick fouls with seven to go in the half.

PJ Hall came out of the intermission hot and pushed the lead to double-digits twice with five points. Dillon Hunter’s trey with just under 15 to go put the Tigers up 13 and brought another Georgia Tech timeout. A Hunter drive to the hoop extended the edge to 15, minutes later.

Clemson's lead stretched to a game-high 21 on a Wiggins 3-pointer from the corner on the Tigers' last possession.

“Really pleased with the way our guys played,” Tigers head coach Brad Brownell said. “A really good performance by our team. Really proud of how they approached the game. A good win.”

Hall finished as Clemson's leading scorer for a fourth consecutive game, posting 17 points and seven rebounds. Galloway finished with 14 points and Tyson and Wiggins reached double-figures with 12 each. Dillon Hunter scored nine points.

Until a late trey, the Yellow Jackets were held to 3-of-22 from beyond the arc.

"We just can't score," GT coach Josh Pastner said. "We can't throw it in the ocean standing on the pier."

The Tigers completed a second regular sweep of an ACC opponent in as many games, after a 79-66 win in Atlanta in December.

Clemson matched the sixth-longest home winning streak in school history (15; with 2017-18 and 1951-52 seasons).

Since a 4-2 start, Clemson’s won 13-of-15.

"I think our older players -- PJ, Alex, Chase, Hunter Tyson, myself -- we felt like we were going to have a good team," Brownell said. "So we've talked a lot this year about no limits. We're playing. Let's see what we can do. Let's not put limits on ourselves. No limits, no excuses, no regrets is kinda what we've talked about this year. It really stemmed from a meeting with Hunter and I this summer. He's done a nice job as our leader of echoing those kind of messages. So we've kinda talked in that terminology than we've talked about standings and must-wins. We phrase it in ways that we know our guys use those three words.

"We have injured guys -- no excuses. You've got to figure out with who's there and go play. We're doing the best we can that way."

The Tigers head back on the road to the first of two matchups with Florida State this season, a 5 p.m. tip Saturday in Tallahassee (ACCN). Brownell said postgame that he thought there was an outside chance Chase Hunter and Hemenway could have returned on Tuesday and he's hopeful they can play this weekend.

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