With only seven scholarship players available, Tech fell to Clemson 45-42 Tuesday night and dropped to 12-11 (3-7 ACC). The leading scorer, senior point guard Trae Golden, was out for the game after being injured against Wake Forrest on Saturday. The loss showed as the Jackets struggled on offense, shooting only 34.8 percent from the field. As low scoring as the offenses were for both teams, Tech head coach Brian Gregory believed some of that had to do with the defense being played by both teams.
“Clemson is a tremendous defensive team, and we showed that we could be at times, too,” Gregory said. “It was just hard to make baskets, nothing came easy. There were a lot of active hands, a lot of deflections. Neither one of us are high-pressure type teams. You can say it was sloppy offense, but to be honest with you, there was great defense on both sides of the floor. We have big guys that are active, that can move, so it’s hard to finish.”
Senior center Daniel Miller led the Jackets with 18 points, going 9-13 from the field to go along with eight rebounds. It was a poor showing for sophomore forward Marcus Georges-Hunt, who had a season high 23 points against wake Forest last week. Georges-Hunt went just 1-13 from the field, but added seven points from the free throw line to finish with nine points on the game.
The Jackets opened up the scoring at the 19:43 mark on a layup by Daniel Miller, but over the next five minutes would only add five points, taking a 7-6 lead on sophomore guard Chris Bolden’s first three pointer of the half. The Jackets would take a 22-18 lead on two free throws by Georges-Hunt before allowing the Tigers to take a 7-0 run to go into halftime with a 25-22 lead.
Tech would finally regain the lead with 7:28 left in the second half on a Miller ump shot that put the Jackets up 33-32. The Jackets would extend the lead to 37-32 with 6:40 remaining, but just like at the end of the first half, the Tigers once again went on a long run. Over the next 3:22, Clemson went on an 8-0 run to take a 40-37 lead with 3:18 to go. Tech cut the lead to 41-39 on a Miller jumper, and after a stop had a chance to tie it up with 16 seconds remaining.
Georges-Hunt took the ball from the top of the key, but was unable to convert on the layup. Senior forward Kammeon Holsey got the offensive rebound, but he too was unable to convert. Bolden would foul Jaron Blossomagme of Clemson with two seconds remaining and he made both shots to put the game at 45-41.
“Well, I don’t think they did anything different defensively. I think it was three straight or two out of three possessions where we had turnovers,” Gregory said. “Obviously, their defense had a lot to do with it. We didn’t set up some screens, and if you do not set up screens against them, then you may not even be able to throw the ball in. They did a good job. That was a critical time in the game and they banked on their defense, which probably got four or five stops in a row, including a layup on the other end.”
Golden, along with sophomore forward Robert Carter Jr. could return Saturday when Tech hosts Virginia.