By John Falduto
No. 24 Clemson (8-1, 16-4) looks to complete the season sweep of Georgia Tech (1-8, 8-11) as the Yellow Jackets travel to Littlejohn Coliseum on Tuesday night.
The ACC-leading Tigers come into the game winners of 8 of their last 9, including a 51-50 win over Virginia Tech in dramatic fashion on Saturday night to avoid their second straight conference loss. Hunter Tyson finished the game one rebound shy of his 12th double-double, but it was his go-ahead three-pointer in the final seconds of the game that proved to be the game-winner for the Tigers. “We talk to our team a lot about making the right play,” said head coach Brad Brownell after the game, “He had the option- he could shoot the three, he could drive, he could throw it to PJ, he could do different things… But I told him if you’re open, shoot it. I just felt like he was going to make a play today.”
Georgia Tech enters Tuesday’s contest on a five-game losing streak as they continue down their toughest stretch of the season, including both Clemson and Duke this week. Their last win came in early January when they handed No. 20 Miami its first conference loss of the season, but head coach Josh Pastner’s team has struggled to put together a winning effort since then, largely in part due to their lack of offense: “You can’t win in the ACC if you aren’t getting to 70,” said Pastner, whose team has averaged just 65 points in the last five games, surpassing the 70-point mark just seven times this season.
Clemson won the first meeting between the two teams by a score of 79-66 at Georgia Tech on December 21st behind one of PJ Hall’s best games of the season, where he totaled 25 points and 10 rebounds on 12-18 shooting. Chase Hunter, Brevin Galloway, and Hunter Tyson all chipped in 14 points for the Tigers in the winning effort, and talented sophomore Miles Kelly led all the Yellow Jacket scorers with 17.
The health of both Chase Hunter and Alex Hemenway continues to be a question for the Tigers, but as of the time of this writing, Chase Hunter seems closer to a return- he’s listed as a “game-time decision” after missing the last two consecutive games with a foot injury suffered against Duke. Georgia Tech is also dealing with some minor injuries of their own- both Lance Terry and Tristan Maxwell are listed as questionable for the matchup with Clemson on Tuesday night.
Clemson’s 8-1 start in ACC play has shattered team record books thus far, and a win on Tuesday night would mark the program’s best 10-game start ever, as well as surpass the team’s conference win total from last season. To avoid the upset, the Tigers will have to go to work on the offensive glass and not give up easy second-chance points to the Yellow Jackets, who are second in the ACC in offensive rebounds per game with 11.4. The Tigers will also need another big night out of PJ Hall, who has averaged 22.7PTS and 7REB over his last three games and is playing some of his best basketball of the season.
Tip-off at Littlejohn Coliseum is set for 9:00 PM ET and you can follow along on The Clemson Athletic Network - 105.5/97.5, theroarfm.com/listen, or The ROAR App.