Tigers let lead slip away in devastating loss

by - Senior Writer -
<span style=Photo by Jason Getz / USATODAY">
Photo by Jason Getz / USATODAY

Clemson blew a 13-point second half lead and wasted another big night from Jaron Blossomgame as Georgia Tech came back for a 75-73 victory at McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta.

Clemson (16-12, 9-7 ACC) has now lost four of its last six while Tech (16-12, 6-9 ACC) has its first three-game winning streak in the ACC since 2007.

Jaron Blossomgame scored 22 points and Donte Grantham added 16, but Jordan Roper suffered through another scoreless night and Landry Nnoko battled foul trouble. Marcus Georges-Hunt scored 25 and Adam Smith scored 20 for the Jackets.

The teams traded baskets through much of the first half and Tech led 23-22 after a jumper by Adam Smith with just over nine minutes to play. A 3-pointer by Ty Hudson started a run for the Tigers, however, and a layup by Blossomgame four minutes later gave Clemson a 41-30 lead with three minutes to play in the half.

The Jackets hit two free throws a minute later, but Blossomgame tossed in another trey with 1:04 to play in the half for a 44-32 lead. The Tigers had a chance for the final shot of the half, but Jordan Roper forced a shot eight seconds left and Marcus Georges-Hunt drilled a 3-pointer at the buzzer as Clemson led 44-35 at intermission. The Tigers had 15 assists on 18 made field goals in the first half.

Three-pointers by Holmes and Grantham got the second half off to a fast start by the Tigers, who eventually led by 13 at 53-40. Tech began to chip away at the lead, however, and a layup by Georges-Hunt brought Tech to within six at 55-49 with 12:43 to play in the game.

The Jackets continued to swarm, and a jumper by Smith made it a two-point lead for Clemson at 60-58 with 8:49 to play. Donte Grantham drilled a quick 3-pointer to make it 63-58, but Smith nailed another 3-pointer a few seconds later to make it 63-61 with 8:13 left.

The teams then went through a six-minute stretch of bad shots, missed shots, careless turnovers and incredible shots. Clemson went up 66-61 on a layup by Grantham, but Georges-Hunt scored four straight to make it 66-65. Smith then hit back-to-back 3-pointers as Tech took a 71-70 lead with 2:05 to play.

Blossomgame missed a 3-pointer coming out of the timeout, and Georges-Hunt missed the front end of a one-and-one, but the rebound was corralled by the Jackets. The Jackets turned it over, but Grantham’s 3-point attempt was blocked and the Tigers were forced to foul Smith with 26.7 seconds to play.

Smith hit both free throws for a 73-70 Jacket lead, and the Jackets followed the shot with two fouls. After the second foul, Grantham hit a tying 3-pointer from the right win with 12 seconds remaining. Georges-Hunt came down the court in a rush, and he was fouled with three seconds remaining.

Georges-Hunt hit both free throws as Tech led 75-73 with the three seconds left on the clock. Grantham couldn’t find an open teammate and finally threw a desperation pass to Blossomgame, whose final shot was well inside the three-point line and also off as Tech held on for the win.

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