Starting Five: Georgia Tech at Clemson
Preview of Saturday afternoon match-up between the Yellow Jackets (13-11, 3-8) and Tigers (14-10, 7-5)
By Jon Cooper | The Good Word
Georgia Tech looks to make it two straight as it heads out for the first of back-to-back road games, visiting Clemson in a Saturday afternoon match-up. Tip-off at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville is set for 2 p.m.
The Yellow Jackets snapped a three-game losing streak on Wednesday night, knocking off Wake Forest, 71-66, at McCamish Pavilion. Marcus Georges-Hunt scored a career-high 30, going for 15 in each half, and Charles Mitchell put up a 14-point, 15-rebound double-double. The Jackets trailed by four at the break, but turned up the defensive pressure in the second half, forcing nine turnovers and took the lead for good with a 10-2 run midway through the second half. Adam Smith hit a big three coming off a timeout in the final minute to put the Jackets up seven and Georges-Hunt hit four straight free throws in the final 30 seconds to close things out. The Jackets dominated points in the paint, 48-36, and scored 22 points off 16 Wake turnovers.
The Tigers dropped their third in four games, and first home game in ACC play, Monday night, falling to Notre Dame, 89-83, at Bon Secours Wellness Center. Jaron Blossomgame scored a career-high 30 for Clemson, with Avry Holmes adding 17 and Donte Grantham adding 15 and seven rebounds. The Tigers allowed the first nine points of the game and never equalized, trailing by six at the half and by as much as 13 in the second half. They pulled to within three at the 9:39 mark, but the Fighting Irish hit back-to-back threes and led by two possessions the rest of the way. Blossomgame was 13-for-19, 2-for-3 from three, with a pair of blocked shots, to lead Clemson, which shot 52.5 percent, 50 percent from three. Both teams lit it up in the final 20 minutes, with the Tigers shooting 55.6 percent, 57.1 from three, while the Fighting Irish were at 57.1 percent, 50 percent from three.
This game will be the 128th renewal of Georgia Tech’s longest-running series, dating back to 1913. Clemson holds a 67-60 edge and leads 42-16 in home games. The Tigers have controlled the series of late, winning 11 of the last 12 overall and 10 straight at home. The Tigers are playing this season at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, as LIttlejohn Coliseum undergoes renovations.
The game can be seen on Fox Sports South with Wes Durham and Mike Gminski calling the action. The game also will be streamed on the ESPN3. It can be heard on the Georgia Tech IMG Sports Network, WYAY (93.7 FM) and 680 The Fan (680 AM), with Brandon Gaudin and Randy Waters on the call. You also can hear the game (Clemson’s call) via satellite radio, on Sirius (Channel 81) and XM (Channel 81). Fans also can get up-to-the-minute stats on RamblinWreck.com and the GT Gameday App.
And now, the Starting Five for today’s game.
The Last Time We Met: Georgia Tech lost a tough 70-63 overtime decision at Littlejohn Coliseum last Feb. 28. In a bizarre game, the Jackets came all the way back from a 23-point first-half deficit, and a 16-point hole with 7:05 to play to force the extra session. Marcus Georges-Hunt had 11 of his 20 points in a 22-6 run to close regulation and Josh Heath tied the game with 39 seconds remaining by hitting a pair of free throws. But in the extra five minutes, the Jackets made only 1-of-10 shots. Georges-Hunt also nine rebounds and six assists and Tadric Jackson added 12. Tech made only four of 24 field goal attempts in the first half and trailed 35-16 at the break but shot 55 percent in the second 20 to catch the Tigers.
Charles Overdue In Charge: Charles Mitchell’s double-double keyed Georgia Tech’s win on Wednesday against Wake Forest. His 14-point/15-rebound effort was his first double-double since the Jan. 27 win at NC State, when he went for 11 and 10. A Mitchell double-double is a good sign for the Yellow Jackets, as they are now 10-3 this season when Mitchell records a deuce. Chuck is due for a big game against Clemson, against whom he totaled nine points and eight rebounds in two games last season and has never gone for double-figure points. He did grab 15 rebounds while with Maryland at Littlejohn (5 offensive, 10 defensive) on March 2, 2014.
Tech Trivia: Who led Georgia Tech in scoring the last time the Yellow Jackets won in Clemson?
Block Party: After going three games without a blocked shot, Ben Lammers has back-to-back games with multiple blocks. He swatted away two Demon Deacons attempts on Wednesday after rejecting three against Miami and is back up to 1.5 per game, eighth in the Conference. Behind Lammers, who leads the team with 31 blocks (17 in ACC play), the Yellow Jackets are fifth in the ACC at 4.1 per game and have blocked at least three shots in nine of their 11 Conference games. Last season they had two-or-fewer blocks in a game seven times. Today’s game could be a shot-blocker’s paradise, as the Tigers lead the ACC with 5.4 bpg, and feature the conference’s top shot-blocker, 6-10, 255-pound senior Landry Nnoko, who sends back 2.5 shots per game.
Just Joshing: Josh Heath seems to save his best for Clemson as Heath’s two highest-scoring games have come against the Tigers. He scored 14 points and hit four field goals, both career highs, last Feb. 16 at McCamish Pavilion. He followed that with eight points three games later in the overtime loss at Clemson, including nailing a pair of free throws to tie the game. Heath’s next highest scoring game is a seven-point effort against Boston College on Jan. 25 at McCamish.
The Sixth Man: Marcus Georges-Hunt moved past his 19th player on Georgia Tech’s all-time scoring list on Wednesday, passing Kenny Anderson, to move into 16th place, with 1,519 points. Next up is John Salley. “Spider” spun a web of 1,587 points from 1982-86...Adam Smith’s huge three-pointer against Wake helped him avoid only the second scoreless game of his career. The lone 0-fer came at Notre Dame on Jan. 19, 2014, while with Virginia Tech...Trivia Answer: Jarrett Jack had 16 points with six assists and four steals in Georgia Tech’s 70-62 win on Feb. 8, 2005 at Littlejohn Coliseum...In addition to making it two straight wins, Coach Brian Gregory is looking for his second win in 10 tries against the Tigers. He is 1-8 all-time against them, but the losses have come by a two points, a pair of three-point losses, a pair of four-point losses, one by eight, and one by seven in overtime. They’d also like to change Clemson Coach Brad Brownell’s loss total vs. Tech from one to two, as Brownell is 10-1 against the Ramblin’ Wreck. Gregory’s only win and Brownell’s only loss came last Feb. 16, at McCamish Pavilion, a 63-52 win...Georgia Tech had 14 assists vs. 12 turnovers against Wake Forest. It was the ninth time in 11 ACC games that the Jackets were positive. Travis Jorgenson has been a big factor in that, as his two-assist/zero-turnover game against Wake Forest was his 16th of the season with one or no turnovers.
GEORGIA TECH SCORING LEADER (ACC): Marcus Georges-Hunt, 18.5 ppg
CLEMSON SCORING LEADER (ACC): Jaron Blossomgame, 19.3 ppg
GEORGIA TECH REBOUNDING LEADER: Charles Mitchell, 10.3 rpg
GEORGIA TECH REBOUNDING LEADER (ACC): Charles Mitchell, 8.8 rpg
CLEMSON REBOUNDING LEADER (ACC): Jaron Blossomgame, 7.2 rpg
GEORGIA TECH ASSISTS LEADER: Josh Heath, 3.5 apg
GEORGIA TECH ASSISTS LEADER (ACC): Marcus Georges-Hunt, 3.5 apg
CLEMSON ASSISTS LEADER (ACC): Jordan Roper, 4.3 apg
GEORGIA TECH PPG/ACC: 75.4/72.6 ppg
OPP. PPG/ACC: 71.7/75.3 ppg
OPP. PPG/ACC: 64.1/69.5
CLEMSON Player To Watch, Jaron Blossomgame: The 6-7, 220-pound redshirt junior forward from Alpharetta -- he teamed with Marcus Georges-Hunt in AAU ball -- has been on fire as of late. The ACC’s third-leading scorer (19.3 ppg in Conference play), has gone for at least 20 points in six of Clemson’s last seven games and is coming off a career-high 30-point game in the loss to Notre Dame, where he shot 13-for-19, 2-for-3 from three, 2-for-4 from the line, with six rebounds, an assist, two blocks and a steal. Blossomgame, enters the game with 985 career points, is shooting nearly 52 percent, over 43 from three and over 75 from the line. He also is aggressive on the boards, as his 7.3 rpg rank 11th in ACC play, his 5.4 defensive rebounds are ninth. His 37.4 minutes per game rank fifth in the conference.