ATLANTA -- One would expect Georgia Tech to struggle to win games against Duke. But how can the lack of success the Yellow Jackets have had against Clemson, which hasnt exactly been one of the elite teams in the conference, be explained?
But when the Yellow Jackets conclude their four-game homestand at noon on Saturday, theyll be trying to end an eight-game losing streak against the Tigers.
The problem is easy to diagnose. Georgia Tech simply cant score against Clemson. The Yellow Jackets have not scored more than 62 points in any game against the Tigers since Brad Brownell has become head coach. Georgia Tech has averaged 53 points in those seven games, which explains an 0-7 record against Brownell.
Theyve made the plays at the end of the game, Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory said. When teams are evenly matched, it comes down to who is making plays at the end of the game.
Four of the past five games have been determined by four points or fewer. The last meeting was typical. Clemson won 45-41 on Feb. 4 and scored its 500th victory at Littlejohn Coliseum. Georgia Tech trailed by two late in the game and had two chances, but Marcus Georges-Hunt had a shot blocked and Kammeon Holseys follow was short.
Clemson (16-9, 7-6 ACC) snapped a three-game losing streak Tuesday with a win against N.C. State. The Tigers are led by forward K.J. McDaniels, a 6-foot-6 junior who averages 17.1 points and 7.2 rebounds, although he had only eight points in the first meeting.
Hes one of the premier players in the league, Gregory said. You cant expect him to go 3-for-14 against. You just have to make him earn everything.
Clemsons Rod Hall and Damarcus Harrison are both coming off strong efforts against N.C. State. Hall had a career-high 20 points and Harrison scored 14, his best offensive output since November.
Every one of their players has great size or length, Gregory said. They do a good job contesting every shot.
Georgia Tech continues to struggle on offense, but things might be looking up. The Yellow Jackets have been able to work forward Robert Carter Jr. back into the lineup. He played 26 minutes against Duke and had 13 points and eight rebounds, his best effort since missing 10 games with meniscus surgery.
But point guard Trae Golden has played only 43 minutes in the past five games, 17 of them against Duke on Wednesday. But the senior is only a shadow of himself. Hes 1-for-10 from the field and has scored only five points since suffering the groin injury.
Hopefully well be able to some more points, with Trae getting a little better and weve seen progress from Robert, Gregory said.
Georgia Tech will need more from center Daniel Miller, who was denied the ball by Duke and had only two points and four shots. Miller scored 18 points and had eight rebounds in the first meeting with Clemson.
Georgia Tech (13-13, 4-9) needs to win to remain above .500 and give itself a legitimate shot at any sort of postseason invitation. The Yellow Jackets follow with consecutive road games at Notre Dame, Florida State and Syracuse before finishing the regular season at home against Virginia Tech.
You want to be playing well at the end of the year, Gregory said. You hope to get as whole as possible.