Georgia Tech reversed recent history in its series with Clemson and in the process recorded the first upset of the ACC tournament.
Senior guard Marcus Georges-Hunt scored 24 of his game-high 28 points during the second half and overtime, rallying Georgia Tech to an 88-85 victory over Clemson in the second round of the ACC tournament Wednesday night at the Verizon Center.
Adam Smith added 23 points, 16 after intermission, and Nick Jacobs had 12 for the 10th-seeded Yellow Jackets, (19-13), who scored the first upset of the tournament and will play second-seeded Virginia at 7 p.m. Thursday in the quarterfinals. Georgia Tech defeated Virginia 68-64 on Jan. 9 in Atlanta.
Seventh-seeded Clemson (17-14) was led by Jaron Blossomgame with 22 points, Avry Holmes with 19, Sidy Djitte with 13 and Jordan Roper with 10.
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“To be honest with you, for 30 minutes we had no answer for them,” Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory said.
“These guys (Georges-Hunt and Smith) made some unbelievable offensive plays, but it was our defense the second half that made the difference. (Clemson) shot 51 percent in the first half, 44 in the second and (28) in overtime.”
Clemson had won 12 of the previous 14 meetings with Georgia Tech and looked like it had this one wrapped up after taking an 18-point lead with 8 minutes, 46 seconds to play. But Georges-Hunt scored 18 points late and added his only two points in overtime on two clinching free throws with 15.2 seconds left for the final margin. James White had given the Yellow Jackets the lead for good in the extra session with two offensive stickbacks. Clemson closed to within one point, 86-85, on a reverse layup by Blossomgame with 1:23 left but never managed to tie it.
Gabe DeVoe attempted a 3-pointer on Clemson’s final possession, but it hit the side of the backboard and bounced out of bounds with 1.7 seconds left. Georgia Tech got the ball inbounds to ice it.
Holmes had a chance to win it at the end of regulation but threw up an airball on a runner from the wing trying to draw a foul.
After attempting only two free throws in the first half, Georgia Tech went 19-of-25 at the line in the second, led by Georges-Hunt hitting 15 of 16. He made six in a row over the final 1:10 of regulation, including two to force overtime with 12.9 seconds left.
Georges-Hunt had only four points by halftime and said his teammates got him straightened out.
“They just told me to go attack,” he said. “I wasn’t playing aggressive enough, and that’s what it really was. My teammates just told me I got to go, be in attack mode. I wasn’t coming off ball screens hard enough. I didn’t go to the free throw line in the first half. I was thinking in my head, ‘Attack, attack, attack.’ ”
“Down the stretch it was tough,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. “We couldn’t get any rebounds, and it became a free-throw contest. We watched them shoot free throws over the last six minutes of the game.”
Georgia Tech outrebounded Clemson 46-28 for the night.
Brownell said the last play of regulation was set up for either Holmes or Blossomgame. “We were running a little slip screen with JB and Avery,” he said. “Avry had the option to go or throw it back to JB, and JB would go. Probably would have liked to start it one or two seconds earlier. He decided to go to the rim and draw contact but couldn’t get a call.”