CLEMSON, S.C. — The shots traveled to the rim from the corner, the wing and the top of arc. They were taken in transition, off the dribble and the pass. And just about all of Georgia Tech’s 3-point tries Tuesday night bounced harmlessly off the rim.
Tech’s 3-point errancy was hardly the only flaw in the Yellow Jackets’ 72-51 loss to No. 24 Clemson, but it was the most prominent. Two games after a 2-for-21 effort in a home loss to N.C. State, Tech hit 4 of 23 shots behind the arc, including 13 in a row.
Tech (8-12, 1-9 ACC) reached the halfway point of the league schedule on a six-game losing streak with a Saturday home game against Duke coming up. Clemson (17-4, 9-1), picked to finish 11th in the conference before the season, remained atop the conference, completed a season sweep of the Jackets and won its 15th consecutive game at Littlejohn.
The Jackets fell behind 12-0 in the first three minutes as the Tigers dropped 3-pointers on their first three possessions, the last a four-point play when Tech forward Jalon Moore fouled Brevin Galloway on the shot.
It ran counter to the pattern of several Jackets games of late, when they’ve taken early leads only to surrender them with prolonged cold spells. Tuesday, Tech got that out of the way, not reaching five points until almost 4 1/2 minutes had elapsed.
But, to its credit, Tech found its footing led by the playmaking of guard Deivon Smith. A 12-3 run capped by a Smith pull-up jumper cut the lead to 25-22 with 6:08 left in the half. Clemson answered with eight consecutive points over three possessions to return the lead to 33-22. The half ended with Clemson leading 37-28, and then the Tigers pushed the lead to 45-32 to start the second half. The Jackets didn’t have the offensive firepower — or defensive might — to make a serious charge after that.
Smith was the Jackets’ most effective player with 11 points, 10 rebounds and four rebounds. Forward Ja’von Franklin led with 12 points and five rebounds. The Jackets shot 34.4% from the field. Their 51-point total was their lowest of the season. Clemson came into the game allowing 66.3 points per game in ACC play, though the Tigers allowed 50 in a win over Virginia Tech Saturday.
The Tigers shot 52.9% from the field (27-for-51), led by 17 points from forward P.J. Hall.
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