Starting Five: Georgia Tech vs. Clemson
Preview of Tuesday night’s rematch between the Yellow Jackets (15-12, 5-9) and Tigers (16-11, 9-6)
By Jon Cooper | The Good Word
Georgia Tech looks to make it three straight wins, four out of five, and three straight wins at home while also seeking a measure of revenge when they host Clemson in a Tuesday night grudge match. Tip-off at McCamish Pavilion is set for 7 p.m.
The Yellow Jackets made it back-to-back wins in ACC play for the first time since March 4-8, 2014, with a dramatic 63-62 win over No. 19/18 Notre Dame on Saturday night at McCamish Pavilion. Marcus Georges-Hunt’s short jumper in the lane climbed over the rim with two seconds remaining to lift Georgia Tech, which trailed by six inside of five minutes.
Georges-Hunt, who scored a game-high 19 with seven assists against only one turnover, and Adam Smith, who had 14, led Tech and Nick Jacobs added nine points and 12 rebounds. The Yellow Jackets jumped out to an early five-point, led by as much as nine and by seven at the half, dominating the paint, 24-16. But Notre Dame roared back in the second half. They led 60-54 with 4:42 to play, and by 62-58 with 70 seconds to play. But Smith hit a three then Tech got a stop and possession on a held ball with 17.6 seconds left.
Off a timeout, Georges-Hunt got a pass from Smith, spun into the lane and hit the short J while surrounded by three Fighting Irish players. The Jackets won points in the paint, second-chance points, points off turnovers and fastbreak points, shutting out the Fighting Irish.
The Tigers got a monster game from forward Jaron Blossomgame but fell to NC State, 77-74, on Saturday afternoon at PNC Arena. The loss dropped them to 2-6 in ACC road games. Blossomgame scored a career-high 33 points on 12-of-22 shooting, 3-for-8 from three and 6-for-7 from the line, but only one other Clemson player reached double-figures. In a game that saw six ties and 16 lead-changes, the Tigers did a lot of things right, holding State star Cat Barber to three points on 1-for-12 shooting, turning the ball over a school-record one time (vs. 16 assists), outscoring the Wolfpack 22-2 off turnovers, and winning the rebounding battle 43-30, but they shot only 25 percent from three and didn’t get to the line for the first 26:24 of the game.
With the score tied at 52 and 10:34 left, State went on a 7-2 run and never trailed again. Clemson cut an eight-point lead to one inside of 2:00 but missed threes on consecutive possessions. State’s Rowan Maverick hit a jumper to push the lead to three after the first miss, then State hit its next six free throws to put the game away.
Tonight's game will be the 129th renewal of Georgia Tech's longest-running series, dating back to 1913. Georgia Tech trails 68-60 but holds a resounding 42-16 edge at home. The Jackets, who lost 66-52 at Clemson only 10 days ago, have lost 12 of the last 13 in the series but have split the last 12 home games, including snapping a four-game home losing streak last season. Tech will look to avoid getting swept in the season series for the fifth time in six years.
The game can be seen on the Fox Sports South, with Wes Durham and Mike Gminski calling the action. The game also will be streamed on the ESPN3 app. 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 Brandon and Randy via satellite radio, on Sirius (Channel 106) and XM (Channel 193). Fans also can get up-to-the-minute stats on RamblinWreck.com and the GT Gameday App.
And now, the Starting Five for tonight’s game.
The Last Time We Met: Georgia Tech could not overcome cold shooting -- a season-low 34.5 percent -- and fell to Clemson, 66-52, at Bon Secours Wellness Center on Feb. 13. Charles Mitchell had 11 points and grabbed a career-best 19 rebounds and Adam Smith added 12. The Jackets trailed 37-32 at the half but shot only 25 percent in the second half and were unable to close the gap. Tech trailed 48-46 with 8:30 to play but back-to-back turnovers and 10 consecutive misses fueled a Clemson 16-4 run that gave the Tigers separation. The Jackets committed 13 turnovers to Clemson’s six -- they were outscored 17-6 off them -- and they allowed Clemson a 40-20 edge in points in the paint and a 21-11 edge in second-chance points.
P.O.T.W. MGH: Marcus Georges-Hunt was invaluable to Georgia Tech’s two-game winning streak and was recognized as the most valuable player in the ACC, earning the conference’s Player of the Week honors. Georges-Hunt, who became the first Yellow Jacket to win the award since Iman Shumpert (March 7, 2011), scored 46 points (23.0 ppg), while shooting 13 of 27 (48.1 percent), 4-of-8 from three-point range and 16-of-23 from the foul line (69.6). He hit five straight free throws down the stretch in Wednesday’s win at Florida State then made the game-winning shot to upset Notre Dame in prime time on Saturday. He had 11 assists vs. just two turnovers, while playing 78 of an 80 possible minutes -- including all 40 against Notre Dame, becoming the first Yellow Jacket to do so since Jason Floyd did it on Jan. 2, 1999 at NC State. Georges-Hunt has played 38 minutes over the last four games.
Tech Trivia: Georgia Tech has had a player win ACC Player of the week 56 times. Who was the first Yellow Jacket to earn the honor?
‘D’ Mighty Quin: Quinton Stephens has been been getting his ands quite dirty lately on the defensive end. He keyed Tech’s crucial stop on a late Notre Dame possession by diving on the floor to tie up Fighting Irish guard Demetrius Jackson and force a held-ball, and he has been especially determined in attacking the glass, doing so in career-best fashion. “Q” has pulled in 20 rebounds over Tech’s last three games, getting six rebounds at Clemson (three offensive, three defensive), then set and matched his ACC regular-season-high by recording back-to-back seven-rebound games -- at Florida State (two offensive, five defensive) then against Notre Dame (one and six). The 20 rebounds match Stephens’ output over his previous six games. The co-captain also swatted away a shot against Notre Dame, giving him one in three straight games for the first time in his career. His 11 blocks on the season are two shy of his single-season best set last year, and his seven rejections in conference play are a career-best. He had eight career blocks in ACC action coming into the season.
That Rebound Was Offensive: Charles Mitchell has been incredibly active on the offensive glass in recent games. Since being limited to one ORB over two games (Feb. 2 at Duke and Feb. 7 against Miami), including getting shutout in the latter game, Mitchell has pulled in 19 offensive rebounds (4.8 per game), including 13 in back-to-back games against Wake and at Clemson. It was the biggest two-game output of the season on the offensive end for Mitchell and his 19 boards have accounted for 44.2 percent of his total rebounds. He begins play with 3.9 ORB per game, second in the ACC and 13th in the nation.
The Sixth Man: Georgia Tech will try to improve its .688 home winning percentage (11-5), the best in the Brian Gregory era. The Jackets’ 11 home wins tie for the most at home under Gregory and are the most at home for Georgia Tech since the 2009-10 season, when the team went 14-2…Marcus Georges-Hunt begins action with 1,575 career points. That’s 12 behind John Salley for 15th place all-time in Georgia Tech history and only 13 behind Bruce Dalrymple for 14th. Both are well within range for Georges-Hunt, who is averaging 18.5 points per game in ACC play and 21.0 ppg over his last five games...Tech Trivia Answer: Guard Brook Steppe, a future first-round pick of the Kansas City-Omaha Kings in 1983, won the award twice during the 1981-82 season...Nick Jacobs had a big day on the glass against Notre Dame, setting his ACC high for total rebounds (12), offensive rebounds (four), and defensive rebounds (eight). He also proved quite the prognosticator, as he told Coach Brian Gregory before the game that he would get 12 rebounds. Jacobs is closing in on 1,000 career points, entering play against Clemson with 972...Ben Lammers has picked his spots to shoot and has made them count. Lammers hasn’t missed a shot in his last two games (3-for-3 in each) and has hit 90 percent over his FGAs over his last five games (9-of-10).
GEORGIA TECH SCORING LEADER (ACC): Marcus Georges-Hunt, 18.5 ppg
CLEMSON SCORING LEADER (ACC): Jaron Blossomgame, 20.3 ppg
GEORGIA TECH REBOUNDING LEADER: Charles Mitchell, 10.2 rpg
GEORGIA TECH REBOUNDING LEADER (ACC): Charles Mitchell, 8.9 rpg
CLEMSON REBOUNDING LEADER (ACC): Jaron Blossomgame, 7.0 rpg
GEORGIA TECH ASSISTS LEADER: Josh Heath, 3.2 apg
GEORGIA TECH ASSISTS LEADER (ACC): Marcus Georges-Hunt, 3.7 apg
CLEMSON ASSISTS LEADER (ACC): Jordan Roper, 3.7 apg
GEORGIA TECH PPG/ACC: 74.4/71.4 ppg
OPP. PPG/ACC: 71.4/74.0 ppg
OPP. PPG/ACC: 63.8/67.8
CLEMSON Player To Watch, Avry Holmes: The Tigers have one of the top defensive specialists in the ACC in Holmes. The 6-2, 195-pound redshirt junior guard from Salem, Ore. has done a masterful job of putting the clamps on opponents’ top scorers, as in his last two games he’s held NC State’s Anthony “Cat” Barber and Boston College’s Eli Carter to a total of 13 points and combined 2-for-29, 0-10 from three. Barber, the ACC’s leading scorer (23.5 ppg) was limited to eight points on 1-for-12, 0-for-3 from three, while Carter, B.C.’s leader at 18.0 ppg, managed only five, going 1-for-17, 0-for-7 from three, against Holmes. Tech two-guard Adam Smith will likely see a lot of Holmes. Smith had his difficulties against Holmes in the first game between the schools, going 3-or-11, 0-for-3 from three. Holmes might go against Marcus Georges-Hunt on a limited basis, as there is a big height disparity, as Georges-Hunt stands 6-5, 215.