Tigers use 22-0 run to pick up first ACC road win

by - Senior Writer -

ATLANTA, GA - In a game that had as many runs as a game between the two schools during football season, the Clemson Tigers pulled off the biggest run of all and pulled off their first win on the road in the ACC this season.

Trailing 19-8 and appearing to once again dig a too-deep hole on the road, the Tigers went on a 22-0 run in the first half and held off Georgia Tech late to win 65-56 Saturday afternoon at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

With the win, Clemson improves to 16-7 and 5-4 in the conference while Georgia Tech falls to 10-12 and 3-6 in ACC play.

“It was certainly a good win for our team,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said. “We have played reasonably well on the road this year, and just haven't been able to find a way to get a win. We didn't get off to a good start - the Georgia Tech kids played hard and made plays early. Certainly our defense was much better the last 25 or 30 minutes of the game and that kept us in the game and allowed us to have our run and then we did a better job of executing under duress late in the ballgame."

With 9:15 remaining in the first half, Tech’s Daniel Miller hit a layup to give the Jackets a 19-8 lead and it appeared the Tigers would once again be headed to a defeat on the road as they had 10 turnovers in the first 10 minutes of play.

Jerai Grant then started the run for the Tigers, hitting a jumper from the top of the key. Barely a minute later, Andre Young buried a 3-pointer, Grant hit another jumper and Young bombed in another trey and the Tigers were back in it, trailing 19-18.

Demontez Stitt hit a 3-pointer of his own, from the left of the key, and Clemson took the lead for good for good at 21-19. Tanner Smith hit two free throws with 2:58 remaining and Clemson led 30-19. The Jackets were able to jump back in the game before halftime, however, outscoring Clemson 6-3 over the final two minutes, and the Tigers led 33-25 at the break.

Georgia Tech head coach Paul Hewitt said the run was fueled by Clemson’s defense.

"The cliché is that basketball is a game of runs,” Hewitt said. “We had our run early and offensively we just missed some shots [during Clemson’s]. Certainly, their defense had something to do with it but I know that we are capable of shooting the basketball better. Defensively, they are just a good team and I am going to have to watch the tape to see what we did. I hope that we didn't drop our heads defensively. You always worry about that when you are not making shots that guys will take it to the other end of the floor with them. "

Tech came out of the locker room and continued their late first-half run, eventually tying the game at 40 on a layup by Glen Rice, Jr., and took the lead at 41-40 on a free throw by Rice shortly thereafter.

From that point, on however, the Tigers went on a 10-0 run and Tech never got closer than four points the rest of the way.

Clemson was led by Grant’s 20 points, and he has now scored 40 points in two games against Tech this season. Stitt added 16 points, whileYoung added 14 points of his own. Young was 4-of-6 from beyond the arc.

Tech was led in scoring by Iman Shumpert with 17 points. The junior guard also had a game-high eight rebounds. The Jackets shot 41% from the field and have yet to break 50% in a game this season. Tech really struggled from behind the arc, connecting on only 2-of-15 for 13%.

Brownell said it was good to finally pick up a conference win on the road.

"It's just feels good for our guys. We have played well enough to win a road game, we just haven't done it,” he said. “You know we are a new team, a new coach, a new staff. We are still kind of learning each other, figuring everybody out. Believing in each other, when you have success, it happens more.

“I'm glad we were able to finally get this next thing done. We needed to do that; we needed to prove that we were good enough to do this. We have two seniors that are good players that should enable us to compete on the road and we have, but it's good to put it behind us, but we've got a lot more work to do though."

He said it also helps to have two seniors – in Grant and Stitt – who can come through in crunch time.

"Demontez, I though defensively was really good, and he did a better job of letting the game just come to him tonight,” Brownell said. “Every once in a while he gets a little too aggressive at times and puts his head down. I thought he was good during the run of getting rid of it, getting assists, throwing the ball ahead, moving it and that helped. Jerai [Grant] certainly was outstanding.

“He was making the high-post jump shot on a regular basis, some of them they were pressing us and we got the ball to the middle and in one or two possessions of zone, we flashed him in there and he made a play and in a couple just against man-to-man and obviously his free throws at the end were big as well."

Clemson returns to action Tuesday night, hosting Boston College in a 9 p.m game at Littlejohn Coliseum.

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