Clemson rallied from a 17-point deficit and had the ball with a chance to tie or win in the final seconds, but Tanner Smith's baseline shot fell off the rim and Virginia Tech escaped with a 67-65 victory on Saturday at Cassell Coliseum. The Hokies improved to 13-10 overall, 2-6 in the ACC. The Tigers dropped to 11-11 on the season, 3-5 in conference play.
K.J. McDaniels almost single-handedly put the Tigers on his back in the
second half, as he scored eight of his team-high 14 points to lead
Clemson's gritty effort after a horrid offensive start to the game. He
made 7-of-11 field goals, which included five dunks. He also had five
rebounds and five blocked shots in a career-high 28 minutes of action.
The Tigers had four players in double figures. Andre Young also posted 14
points, 10 in the second half. He struggled shooting the ball from the
field, making only four of 13 attempts. But, he was perfect from the
charity stripe in four tries. Devin Booker added 11 points and 11
rebounds, his third double-double of the season. Tanner Smith also
reached double figures with 10.
Virginia Tech was led by Jarell Eddie, who scored a game-high 15 points.
He was supported by 12 points from freshman Dorian Finney-Smith and 10
from Erick Green.
The Hokies jumped out to an 18-5 lead after the Tigers were unable to hang
onto the ball in the early going, both on rebound attempts and in
half-court sets. Clemson turned the ball over six times by the 12:08 mark
of the opening half, and the Hokies scored easily in transition off the
miscues. Clemson had only four turnovers the entire 40 minutes against
Virginia last Tuesday.
A three-point play underneath on an offensive rebound by the Hokies'
smallest player, Marquis Rankin, made the count 21-7 in favor of Virginia
Tech. The lead stretched to as large as 16 on a putback by Green off his
own miss. Clemson then got a couple of baskets to fall, first a jumper in
the lane by Smith and then a Booker dunk off a Hokie turnover. But, Eddie
got a fortunate bounce off the top of the backboard on a three and it fell
through to push the lead back to 15 at 28-13.
The lead was extended to a game-high 17 at 34-17 on a four-point play by
VT's Eddie at the 3:23 mark. Catalin Baciu and McDaniels came to life in
the final minutes of the opening half. Baciu scored seven points in the
final three minutes, while McDaniels tipped home two dunks over the final
stages to cut it to 42-28 at intermission.
Clemson came out fighting in the second half, as Young hit a pair of
buckets to draw the Tigers closer. But a three by Finney-Smith and a dunk
by Victor Davila gave the Hokies a 51-37 lead at the first media timeout.
After a McDaniels block inside and a dunk on the other end, the Tigers had
it at 53-41. But, Clemson suffered another scoreless drought that lasted
about four minutes until Rod Hall made a driving basket with 10:20
remaining in the game.
Following a steal by Smith, roommate Young uncorked his second successful
three of the second half from the corner to cut it to 61-50. But, the
Hokies once again had an answer as Finney-Smith sank his second
three-point goal of the half on the ensuing possession to make the lead
14. The lead finally went under double digits on an offensive board and
putback by freshman Bernard Sullivan. He was fouled and made the free
throw to cut it to 64-55 with 4:08 to play. Sullivan had a season-best
seven points and four rebounds in only nine minutes.
Booker followed with another slam off a transition steal, thundering it
home to make it a seven-point deficit at 64-57 at the final media timeout.
Sullivan had a chance to pull the Tigers back to within seven after a
pair of Dorenzo Hudson free throws, but his follow shot was blocked by
Eddie. McDaniels hit a banked shot to make it 66-59. The Tigers got a
stop and then found McDaniels for a hit-ahead and easy slam to cut the
margin to five.
McDaniels' fifth slam of the game brought the Tigers within three at 66-63
after a Hokie turnover. But, Clemson fouled Green and the Hokies' leading
scorer only made the first. Smith came down and hit a stepback jumper and
made it 67-65 in favor of Tech. Davila was fouled and missed the front
end of a one-and-one, giving the Tigers possession in the final seconds.
The Tigers return to action at home on Tuesday, Feb. 7 against the
Maryland Terrapins. Tipoff is set for 7:00 PM at Littlejohn Coliseum in a
game that will be televised by ESPNU.
Tigers fall in Blacksburg
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