Bulldogs Hand Tigers Third Straight Loss


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ATLANTA - Clemson's inability to shoot free throws and hit key shots down the stretch proved to be its undoing Saturday.


Georgia grabbed the lead for good on a Chris Daniels jumper with 6:50 left in the game, then held on the rest of the way for a 61-56 win over the Tigers at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Classic at Phillips Arena in Atlanta. The victory improves the Bulldogs to 5-3, while Clemson falls to 3-3.


The Tigers' last lead came with 8:07 left in the game, when Olu Babalola's 3-pointer put his team ahead 47-46. But Clemson would hit just two more field goals the rest of the way - Chey Christie's jumper with 1:07 left to pull the Tigers within 55-52, and a meaningless 19-footer by Shawan Robinson with :01 left.


Clemson had a chance to get the ball back trailing by just three points with under a minute to go, but Georgia's Chris Daniels scored on a driving layup with :47 left to give his team a 59-54 lead.


The Tigers shot a respectable 48 percent (19-of-40) from the field, but again struggled mightily from the free thrown line (11-of-21, 52 percent).

“I thought our defense was good, but it wasn’t as good as it needed it to be down the stretch,” said Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell.


Clemson also had trouble taking care of the ball - again – committing close to 20 turnovers.

“We are putting too much pressure on our defense with the turnovers,” said Purnell.


Senior Damien Wilkins, one of just eight Georgia players on scholarship, led the winners with 13 points. Steve Newman added 12, while Rashad Wright and Daniels finished with 10 each.


Christie topped Clemson with 24 points, followed by Lamar Rice with 14.


Clemson's post players struggled against Georgia's zone defense, hitting just 4-of-12 shot attempts on the afternoon.


Rice opened strong, connecting on three 3-points in the first half on his way to 13 points at the break. Christie finished the half with 11, including two-of-three from behind the arc.


The five 3-pointers between the two in the first half were as many as Clemson had made in its last two games (Purdue, South Carolina) combined.


But the Tigers struggles continued in two familiar areas - turnovers and free throws. Clemson gave the ball away 13 times in the half, while connecting on just 2-of-11 from the charity stripe.


Box Score


CLEMSON (3-3)

Ford 2-4 2-6 6, Babalola 1-7 0-0 3, Hobbs 0-2 0-0 0, Hamilton 1-3 0-0 2, Christie 8-14 5-8 24, Rice 5-11 1-2 14, Allen 0-1 0-0 0, Hudson 0-1 1-2 1, Robinson 1-3 2-3 4, Akingbala 1-1 0-1 2. Totals 19-47 11-22 56.



GEORGIA (5-2)

Wilkins 4-12 4-4 13, Hayes 3-5 2-2 8, Daniels 5-9 0-1 10, Wright 5-11 0-2 10, Stukes 2-4 0-2 4, Wehunt 1-5 2-4 4, Newman 4-6 3-4 12, Sikes 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 24-55 11-19 61.



Halftime - Clemson 31-29. 3-Point goals - Clemson 7-18 (Christie 3-6, Rice 3-7, Babalola 1-3, Hudson 0-1, Robinson 0-1), Georgia 2-14 (Wilkins 1-2, Newman 1-3, Wright 0-4, Wehunt 0-3, Stukes 0-2). Fouled out - None. Rebounds - Clemson 34 (Ford 7), Georgia 38 (Daniels 13). Assists - Clemson 13 (Robinson 4), Georgia 13 (Wright, Wehunt 3). Total fouls - Clemson 19, Georgia 19. A - 11,018.

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