For nearly 30 minutes, the dreams of the postseason that were harbored by Georgia Tech were starting to look less likely. Now, the Yellow Jackets find themselves as one of the hottest teams in the ACC.
Down 11 points with 12:19 left, the Yellow Jackets (16-12, 6-9 ACC) again showed they had plenty of fight, despite playing for the third time in six days. With seniors Marcus Georges-Hunt and Adam Smith leading the way, Georgia Tech found a way to leave McCamish Pavilion with a 75-73 win over Clemson.
The final dagger was struck by Georges-Hunt, who hit a pair of free throws with three seconds left to provide the winning margin.
But much of the fuel was provided by Smith, who scored 15 of his 20 points in the second half and drilled a 3-pointer with 2:01 remaining that gave the Yellow Jackets the lead.
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Clemson (16-12, 9-7) managed to get off a final shot, a good one by Jaron Blossomgame from the lane as the horn sounded. The ball rattled off the rim, and Blossomgame reacted by slamming his fist into the padding around the basket.
FOUR WHO MATTERED
Georges-Hunt: The senior scored 25 points, the third time in five games he has scored 25 or more. Georges-Hunt was 8-for-10 from the field and 8-for-9 from the line and had four assists. He also did an excellent job guarding Blossomgame in the second half, limiting him to five points.
Smith: He scored 20 points and was 4-for-7 on 3-pointers, all of them coming in the second half. Smith has scored 20 or more in six games.
Quinton Stephens: He had three clutch 3-pointers and scored 11 points. Stephens also had 11 rebounds and did well on defense.
Blossomgame: He scored 22 points and had three 3-pointers, but he was only 2-for-8 from the field in the second half.
With 12:19 remaining, Clemson held a 60-49 lead. That's when the Yellow Jackets got back in the game, tying it on a 3-pointer by Smith with 3:55 left. He hit another 3-pointer the next time down the court to put Georgia Tech ahead for the first time since the first half.
Starting again: The Yellow Jackets started the same lineup as in the two previous games -- Smith and Georges-Hunt at guard alongside forwards Stephens, Charles Mitchell and Nick Jacobs.
Reboundless: Georgia Tech's bigs did little on the glass in the first half. Jacobs had two rebounds, Mitchell had one and James White had none. The trio finished with nine. Reserve Ben Lammers kept it respectable with seven rebounds and four blocks in 21 total minutes.
Warming up: Georgia Tech has won three straight conference games for the first time under head coach Brian Gregory. The Yellow Jackets have won four of their past five games and have guaranteed themselves a winning record.
Streak ends: Georgia Tech ended a two-game losing streak to Clemson and avenged the loss that occurred 10 days earlier.
Jacobs closing in: Jacobs needs only 22 points to reach 1,000 for his career. The first 680 points came during three seasons at Alabama.
In the house: Football head coach Paul Johnson was watching from his front-row seat. Also present was former Georgia Tech great Dennis Scott.
THEY SAID IT
Gregory on the strong second half: "The first half, we had no answer for them whatsoever. Our coaches put their heads together at halftime and changed some matchups, which is fine, but our guys have to come out and execute it and they did."
Gregory on the comeback: "When your close and you have Adam and Marcus, you have a good chance to win the game."
Gregory on the unsung heroes: "Quinton Stephens quietly made a big impact, and Ben Lammers was tremendous."
Georgia Tech plays again Saturday at Boston College.