The Clemson Tigers (15-6, 6-3 ACC) defeated Georgia Tech 45-41 Tuesday night for the 500th win in Littlejohn Coliseum’s history. The Tigers struggled all night on offense but were still able to get the win due to a strong defensive performance. Junior KJ McDaniels, Clemson’s leading scorer struggled offensively, shooting 3-14 from the field with only 8 points. However, he made up for it defensively with a steal and two blocks, including a key block on Marcus Georges-Hunt as time winded down to preserve Clemson’s slim lead.
The game was low scoring from start to finish as neither side could run their offense with any consistency or rhythm. Clemson was led out of the gates by a strong first half performance from sophomore Jordan Roper, who had 10 points in the half, including two three pointers. Unfortunately, Roper was unable to sustain his first half numbers, scoring only two points with no field goals in the second half. Clemson’s offense relied on distributing the points in the second half, as Roper would be the only Tiger to score in double digits on the night. As the game approached five minutes remaining, the Tigers found themselves down by 5, their largest deficit of the night. However, they were able to convert defense into offense as they stormed back to take the late lead. On their final possession, Georgia Tech went to Marcus Georges-Hunt who was blocked by McDaniels on his way to the basket. The loose ball was collected by Kammeon Holsey who missed an open put back that would have tied the game. Clemson’s Jaron Blossomgame grabbed the defensive rebound then sank two huge free throws to clinch the game for the Tigers.
With the win on Tuesday, the Tigers moved to 6-3 in the ACC, moving into a three way tie for third in the conference. Though Clemson’s offense has struggled to consistently produce all season, the Tigers still find themselves in prime striking distance within the ACC. Clemson’s next game will provide its greatest challenge yet as they travel to the Carrier Dome to take on the top ranked and undefeated Syracuse Orange. An upset of Syracuse would go a long way to helping the Tigers’ tournament hopes.