CLEMSON - The Tigers opened Littlejohn Coliseum with a 76-72 victory over Georgia Tech on Nov. 30, 1968.
It seems only fitting, then, that the Tigers’ 500th win in their den came against the Yellow Jackets although it most certainly did not come easy.
Brad Brownell’s ballers continued their home domination of Tech with a laborious 45-41 victory on Tuesday before 7,248 fans at Littlejohn. Clemson had just one more field goal (15) than turnovers (14) in the contest, hitting 32 percent from the field and just 15 percent from beyond the arc.
Clemson 45, GT 41
Tigers improve to 6-3 in ACC play
But in the end it was enough, as Georgia Tech missed two potential game-tying shots in the waning moments and fouled forward Jaron Blossomgame with 2.3 ticks showing on the game clock.
Blossomgame calmly sank both charity shots to seal the deal.
“I felt like I was going to make (the free throws),” Blossomgame said. “I had all the confidence in the world. I work on that with the (graduate assistants).”
Clemson improves to 15-6 overall and 6-3 in the ACC while Georgia Tech slips to 12-11, 4-6.
It was the ninth consecutive home “W” over the Jackets and eighth in a row at any venue for the Tigers.
“We started off rough but we got the win,” said Blossomgame, who contributed nine boards and four points.
Actually, both combatants started off rough and finished the same way.
While the Tigers shot 31 percent for the game the Jackets managed just 34 percent.
“It was not a pretty game but I thought both teams played with a lot of grit,” said Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory. “I have great respect for Brad and his team.”
Jordan Roper led the victors with a game-high 12 points, going 5-of-12 from the floor.
“We were just having trouble making shots tonight,” Roper said. “I just did what I could to bring some energy to the team. I think that’s my role.”
K.J. McDaniels finished with 8 points and Nnoko Landry managed 7.
McDaniels was 3-of-14 from the floor and missed all five of his 3-point tries.
Tech, depleted by injuries, got 18 points from center Daniel Miller while Marcus Georges-Hunt tallied 9.
The largest lead by either team was five points.
“It was a hard fought defensive struggle,” Brownell said. “Our best player didn’t have a good game but I’m proud of our guys. We had a terrible stretch in the second half where we got timid but they grinded it out. It wasn’t easy making baskets tonight but we found a way.”
Both teams were in grind mode in the first half, neither finding the range with much consistency nor taking care of the ball very well.
Georgia Tech did manage to get the best of things scoring-wise for most of the frame, shooting a bit better than Clemson although never leading by more than four points.
But with :56 left before halftime Damarcus Harrison put the Tigers in front 23-22 when he sank a pair of free throws, and a Jordan Roper jumper with 1.3 seconds remaining made it 25-22, matching the Tigers’ largest lead.
“That was big for us,” Brownell said. “Any kind of run in a game like this is big.”
The foes shared a 36 percent field goal percentage and six turnovers at halftime, setting up the possibility of a too-close-for comfort second half for both sides.
That it was.
“A game like this, you’re just looking for a spurt,” Brownell said. “It was just hard to score. Neither team had much in transition.”