ATLANTA -- It has been a while since Georgia Tech has been on the good end of a second-half scoring streak, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
The Yellow Jackets, who never trailed, went on a 14-0 run in the second half on the way to beating Clemson 63-52 on Monday and end a 10-game losing streak to the Tigers.
“I thought our defense in the first half, from start to finish, was as good as it’s been all year,” Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory said.
Georgia Tech’s win came without guard Chris Bolden, who was suspended indefinitely for “not adhering to the standards” of the program. He was replaced in the starting lineup by freshman Tadric Jackson, who played a career-high 29 minutes and responded with four points, two rebounds and five assists.
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“Tadric gives us a little more speed,” Gregory said. “I like the way he’s competed the last two weeks.”
The game was tied at 32 when Georgia Tech started its run. Most of the damage came in the paint, where the Yellow Jackets scored 40 of their points. Georgia Tech wound up scoring 14 straight points before Clemson finally had an answer, but it eventually stretched the lead to 18 points when Marcus Georges-Hunt made a 3-pointer with 4:56 left.
“We got some stops, and we got some breaks,” Gregory said. “In the halfcourt, we executed well. We moved the ball. I like the unselfishness we played with on offense.”
But the Yellow Jackets were unable to put the game away and let Clemson get enough points to raise the blood pressure of the Georgia Tech fans, who have seen their team waste more than their share of leads. Clemson was able to get to within nine points, but the Tigers started their comeback too late to make it a reality.
Georgia Tech (12-14, 3-11 ACC) was led by point guard Josh Heath, who scored a career-high 14 points, on 4-of-5 shooting, with three assists and three steals. Demarco Cox had 12 points and nine rebounds, and Georges-Hunt had 11 points and four rebounds.
“Josh played his best game in a month, and Travis (Jorgenson) made a couple of nice passes,” Gregory said. “Our penetration was good. We scored 40 points n the second half. Sometimes we struggle to score 40 points in a game against Clemson.”
Clemson (15-11, 7-7 ACC) got 10 points apiece from Jaron Blossomgame and Austin Ajukwa. The loss doesn’t help the Tigers, who are trying to get off the bubble and elbow their way into the NCAA tournament.
Georgia Tech led by seven points as late as 5:09 left in the first half before going into one of its scoring swoons. The Yellow Jackets didn’t score a point in the final 4:12 but still managed to have a 23-21 halftime lead.
The Yellow Jackets made 46.3 percent from the floor, their second-best shooting performance in an ACC contest. They shot 50 percent in the second half and had points from nine different players. The result was Georgia Tech’s first win over Clemson since 2010.
“We’ve some tough games. We’ve had some bitter losses to them,” Gregory said. “Sometimes when you face some of your demons of the past and are able to win, it means a lot to the guys. We respect the way they play, the toughness they play with, the unselfishness they play with. You win the game against them, you’ve earned it. They don’t give games away. Our guys know that.”
Georgia Tech is off until Saturday when it travels to North Carolina, then returns home next Monday for a contest with Louisville.