ATLANTA -- The Georgia Tech basketball team is looking to make a little positive history for a change Saturday when it travels to Clemson.
A win over the Tigers would give the Yellow Jackets a season sweep over Clemson for the first time since 2005. Georgia Tech has not beaten the Tigers in back-to-back meetings since the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010.
Georgia Tech beat Clemson 63-52 on Feb. 16 in one of the most complete games played by the Yellow Jackets this season. A win would give the Yellow Jackets (12-16, 3-13 ACC) a chance to move into a tie with Wake Forest for the No. 11 seed in the conference standings.
“We have to look at some of the things we did well against them,” Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory said. “Defensively, we were pretty good. We rebounded well in the second half. I thought our activity level on defense was good.”
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Georgia Tech outrebounded Clemson 38-29 in the first meeting. The Yellow Jackets were effective inside, getting 40 points in the paint.
“The big thing is, you have to defend well because you know they will defend well,” Gregory said. “You’d better rebound well, because you know they’re going to rebound well.”
Clemson (15-12, 7-8) is dead last in the ACC, scoring 60.2 points per game, and the Tigers have failed to score more than 60 points in nine of their 15 conference games. Georgia Tech averages 63.8 points and has scored at least 60 in 11 conference games.
“I think they’re more explosive on offense than they have been,” Gregory said. “In the past, it was such a grinder game that you could go three or four possessions without scoring because they weren’t such a good offensive team. That’s not the case anymore. You have to play a more efficient game against them.”
Clemson is led in scoring by Jaron Blossomgame, who averages 12.8 points and 8.0 rebounds. Four other starters average seven or more, including freshman Donte Grantham (9.1) and senior Rod Hall (8.6).
“We’ve got to get better offensively,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said. “We’re having a hard time finding ways to score.”
The Tigers have played only once since losing on their trip to Atlanta, and that was a 78-56 loss to Duke.
“Sometimes our poor offense affects our defense, and I think that happened a little bit at Duke,” Browell said. “We just didn’t play well offensively and turned the ball over for points, and once things started going against us a little bit, I thought we lost a little bit of our toughness.”
The toughness is likely to return in time for Saturday’s noon tipoff. It will be Clemson’s final home game, which makes it senior day at Littlejohn Coliseum, where the Tigers have beaten Georgia Tech nine straight times.
Georgia Tech had an ugly offensive effort in its most recent outing against Louisville. The Yellow Jackets scored just 51 points, shot only 41 percent from the field and blew a 13-point lead in the second half. Marcus Georges-Hunt scored 13 and has been in double figures in 10 straight games. Demarco Cox had 11 points and 11 rebounds for his second double-double.
But the Yellow Jackets continue to struggle from the perimeter. They were 1-for-11 on 3-pointers and haven’t been good shooting from deep since guard Chris Bolden was slapped with a season-long suspension.
Georgia Tech returns home for its final regular-season game Tuesday against North Carolina.
“Over the last six weeks we’re much better offensively than we were,” Gregory said. “The thing on offense is you want to keep creating quality opportunities. Our decrease in turnovers has been beneficial for us.”