ATLANTA -- At least Georgia Tech won’t have long to think about its latest heartbreaking loss.
The Yellow Jackets have a little more than 48 hours between Saturday’s loss to Florida State and Monday’s game against Clemson. That adds up to fewer hours to ponder another disappointing conference loss and incentive to get back on the horse and try again.
Maybe they can find a way to get over the hump and find a solution to a season-long series of close losses. Georgia Tech has lost 11 conference games, including 10 by a total of 38 points. The Yellow Jackets lost to Florida State by four points, despite leading by five points with three minutes left.
Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory said his team continues to play hard and work diligently but admitted the team’s psyche might be fragile.
“I don’t think you can go through the nine times that we went through it in the league and not have that,” Gregory said. “I think that’s human nature. I do not think there is visible evidence of that. (Against Florida State), I think we took maybe one bad shot in that stretch. Maybe one hurried shot, and that was it.”
It won’t be easy to bounce back against Clemson, which ended a two-game losing streak by beating Virginia Tech on Saturday. Clemson (15-10, 7-6 ACC) has owned Georgia Tech like no other opponent, having won the past 10 meetings. Georgia Tech last defeated Clemson on Jan. 19, 2010.
“I don’t think there’s any question that it’s weighing on the guys,” Gregory said. “But our guys have done a pretty good job of not letting that affect how hard they have played. They are still sticking together and fighting together.”
At least Clemson isn’t an offensive powerhouse. The Tigers rank last in the ACC in offense, averaging 62.1 points per game. Clemson has only one player scoring in double figures -- Jaron Blossomgame, a 6-foot-7 sophomore from Chattahoochee. He averages 13 points and 8.1 rebounds. Clemson has six players who average seven or more points, with Donte Grantham at 9.4 points and Augusta native Rod Hall at 8.7 points.
But Clemson has made its name on defense. Clemson is another team that plays a tough, physical brand of defense and ranks third in the conference in scoring defense at 60.2 points per game, trailing only Virginia and Louisville.
Georgia Tech’s defense has been pretty good, too. The Yellow Jackets allow only 64 points per game, which has allowed them to remain competitive. The offense continues to be led by Marcus Georges-Hunt, who scored 17 on Saturday and averages 14 points and 5.7 rebounds.
Four of the past five meetings have been decided by four or fewer points. Clemson won both meetings last year, 63-55 in Atlanta and 69-65 in overtime at Clemson. The Yellow Jackets play Feb. 28 at Clemson.
“Coming off a win, hopefully that will keep us energized and let us play well, but Georgia Tech is a different team,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said. “They’re not as good of a 3-point shooting team (as Virginia Tech) but they’re physical like us. They rebound, and they defend. Our games with them are usually low-scoring.”