Clemson loses second straight game thanks to another bad defensive effort
Before Clemson’s program was paused due to COVID-19 concerns, no one was playing better in the ACC than the Tigers. Since they came back from their 11-day pause, the Tigers look nothing like the team that won nine of their first 10 games.
For the second straight game, Clemson struggled in an 83-65 loss to Georgia Tech Wednesday at the McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta. After being dominated by Moses Wright in the first half, Michael Devoe lit up the Tigers in the second half.
Devoe finished the night with a game-high 22 points, while Wright added 21 to pace the Yellow Jackets. Jordan Usher also contributed with 21 points. Tech has now won five straight games, but Wednesday’s win over Clemson was its first action in 17 days due to a COVID pause in its program.
Clemson (9-3, 3-3 ACC) has now given up 80-plus points in back-to-back games after not allowing more than 70 in the first 10 games of the season. It gave up 85 points to Virginia last Saturday.
The Tigers came into the game ranked second in the ACC in points allowed, allowing just 60 points an outing.
“Our turnovers and their three-pointers were the two things that stuck out,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said after the game. “Offensively, we were really good against the zone early in the game, but Georgia Tech was good on offense, too. Their guards are elite players who can really play with great confidence and pace.
“I didn’t think we guarded the ball very well, and their guys started making shots. We need to reexamine some things we’re doing defensively.”
Clemson played well enough on the offensive end to win Wednesday’s game, as Aamir Simms led Clemson with 19 points on 9-of-13 shooting, while Clyde Trapp had 14 points and John Newman scored 12. The Tigers shot 52 percent from the field overall and were 9-of-18 from three-point range.
But the story of the night was the hot shooting of the Yellow Jackets, who made 16-of-26 shots from behind the arc and shot 57 percent overall from the field. It also did not help that the Tigers committed 20 turnovers.
“Committing twenty turnovers really hurt us. We scored easily early on, but we weren’t getting stops,” Brownell said. “The game was too comfortable for both teams, and Georgia Tech did a better job of tightening up. We didn’t execute well enough tonight.”
After getting some separation from Clemson in the first half, Tech gained control of the game with a 9-0 run to start the second half for a 53-35 lead with 16:08 to play.
After Georgia Tech (7-3, 3-1 ACC) increased its lead to 19 points, the Tigers went on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 12 points, 56-44, on a Newman layup.
However, Devoe and the Yellow Jackets got hot again and answered with a 12-2 run to increase their lead to 22 points, 68-46, with 9:15 to play. It marked the largest lead of the night.
Clemson again tried to come back, but got no closer than 13 points, 70-47, on a Trapp three-pointer with 5:42 to remaining on the clock.
Tech led 44-35 at halftime, as Wright dominated the Tigers inside. The Yellow Jackets’ center scored 17 first half points on 7-of-11 shooting. He also was 2-for-2 from behind the arc. Usher also added 13 of his points in the first 20 minutes.
The Jackets connected on 53.3 percent of their first half shots and were 9-of-16 from three-point range. They had 10 assist and turned the ball over just twice. Tech led by as many as 11 points in the opening half.
Clemson shot the ball well in the opening half. The Tigers shot 54.2 percent, including a 6-of-10 effort from deep. But they turned the basketball over 10 times which led to 13 Yellow Jacket points. Tech had six first half steals.
Simms and Trapp both scored nine points in the first half.
Clemson will stay on the road and visit Florida State on Saturday in Tallahassee. The Seminoles have won three straight games. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m., and will be televised by ABC.