Feb. 23, 2016
ATLANTA (AP)– It’s not unusual for Marcus Georges-Hunt to be asked to take a shot with the game on the line.
This time, he also was asked to win the game on defense.
Georges-Hunt scored 25 points, including two free throws with three seconds remaining, and Georgia Tech came back from a second-half deficit of 13 points to beat Clemson 75-73 on Tuesday night.
Donte Grantham’s 3-pointer for Clemson with 11 seconds remaining tied the game. Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory decided not to call timeout, and Georges-Hunt said that kept Clemson’s defense unsettled as he drove toward the basket.
”It was more open than I expected,” Georges-Hunt said. ”It seemed like us not calling a timeout, they were scrambling all over the place and I just took advantage of it. … They gave me enough room to get a head of steam going. I just drove and tried to finish and got fouled.”
The decisive free throws came only three days after Georges-Hunt’s last-second shot gave Georgia Tech a 63-62 win over then-No. 19 Notre Dame.
Jaron Blossomgame, who led Clemson with 22 points, missed a last-second jumper.
Georgia Tech (16-12, 6-9 Atlantic Coast Conference) has won three straight ACC regular-season games for the first time since the 2007-08 season. Adam Smith made 4 of 7 3-pointers and had 20 points for the Yellow Jackets.
Grantham had 16 points, all in the second half, for Clemson (16-12, 9-7). The Tigers have lost four of six.
After Blossomgame had 17 points in the first half, Gregory assigned Georges-Hunt to cover the high-scoring forward.
”I told Marcus at halftime `You know where you want to get to and where you want to bring this team, you’re going to have to do it at both ends this half.”’
Clemson led 53-40 before Georgia Tech began its comeback. Smith’s fourth 3-pointer of the game gave Georgia Tech its first lead of the second half at 71-70.
Georgia Tech’s Ben Lammers blocked a jumper by Grantham, and Smith sank two free throws on the other end to push the lead to three points.
Georgia Tech outscored Clemson 40-29 in the second half while making 13 of 22 – 59.1 percent- of its shots from the field.
The defensive breakdowns left Blossomgame baffled.
”I’m not sure what happened,” Blossomgame said. ”We just couldn’t get stops down the stretch.”
The loss damaged Clemson’s postseason outlook. Coach Brad Brownell was hoping for a strong finish but instead the Tigers have lost back-to-back road games against North Carolina State and Georgia Tech, teams in the lower half of the conference standings.
”This really hurts, obviously, our NCAA Tournament hopes,” Brownell said. ”That eats at you because we’ve done a lot of good things this year.”
Clemson was denied its fifth sweep of Georgia Tech in six years. Georgia Tech’s only double-digits ACC loss was a 66-52 decision at Clemson on Feb. 13.
Clemson: F Josh Smith (nose) was held out. … Former Clemson football standout Vic Beasley Jr., now with the Atlanta Falcons, sat near the Tigers’ bench. … Blossomgame, fourth in the ACC with his average of 18.1 points per game, became the 14th player in school history to score 500 points in a season. He passed the mark in the first half.
Georgia Tech: Georges-Hunt hit a long 3-pointer, barely beating the buzzer, to end the first half. … The 44-35 halftime deficit was the Yellow Jackets’ largest of the season. … Georgia Tech won three straight ACC games late in the 2013-14 season, but that streak included one ACC tournament game. … Quinton Stephens had 11 points while making three 3-pointers.
Clemson hosts No. 3 Virginia on Tuesday night.
Georgia Tech visits Boston College on Saturday.