Quotes, Notes & Numbers: Blossomgame 'stepped up with confidence and knocked them down'

'You win differently...Sometimes it can be games like this, where it feels like a football game. You just grind'

Men's Basketball - Jaron Blossomgame

Photo by Mark Crammer

Men's Basketball - Jaron Blossomgame

Clemson coach Brad Brownell

On Jaron Blossomgame’s free throws at the end: “(Those were) big ones. He rebounded the ball great tonight. He only had four points, but they were free throws, including the two to win the game. Those were big. He hasn’t shot free throws great yet, but he stepped up with a lot of confidence and knocked them down. You’re always proud of your guys and excited when they do something like that.”

On Jordan Roper’s late first half surge: “That was huge. I thought we finished the half great. I told our guys not to get frustrated. This was going to be a hard game to play. It’s going to be hard. Winning isn’t easy, and shouldn’t be. Their guys practice really hard. They prepare. They watch tape. They do the walk-throughs. It’s not going to be easy to make baskets tonight and it wasn’t, but you just have to keep grinding and hopefully you get these little mini-spurts, where you get a 7-0 at some point. That’s what we got at the end of first half to take the lead. We obviously had the late spurt at the end of the game, 5-0, to win. In games like these, you’re just looking for a couple of scores back to back. For as much as it was difficult to score, neither team really got much transition offense. Both teams had good defensive balance and did a good job of getting back. Both teams were very disciplined.”

On Roper’s overall performance: “He had some good looks. I thought he played with great confidence tonight. I thought some other guys were a little rattled. (Marcus) Georges-Hunt, one of their best players, goes 1-for-13, K.J. (McDaniels) goes for 3-for-14. Two of the better players on each team were struggling. Sometimes, it can trickle down, but Jordan was looking to make plays. I thought Rod (Hall) made a huge basket late, and got fouled. You’re just hopeful that guys want to step up and want to do that kind of thing.”

On back to back wins heading to Syracuse: “It’s really good. You’re just trying to keep positive momentum going. You win differently. Some games you play well and it’s offensive minded, sometimes it’s defensive minded. And sometimes it can be games like this, where it feels like a football game. You just grind.”

Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory

Overall thoughts: “Clemson is a tremendous defensive team, and we showed that we could be at times, too. It was just hard to make baskets, nothing came easy. There were a lot of active hands, a lot of deflections. Neither one of us are high-pressure type teams. You can say it was sloppy offense, but to be honest with you there was great defense on both sides of the floor. We have big guys that are active that can move, so it’s hard to finish. I’m proud of our guys, we are obviously a little depleted and with additional foul trouble, we had to scrap together some lineups. The team cannot be defined by the injuries, but how we respond to the tough times and I think we have done a good job, and we have to do it again the next game.”

On Clemson’s defense in the final stretch: “Well, I don’t think they did anything different defensively. I think it was three straight or two out of three possessions where we had turnovers. Obviously, their defense had a lot to do with it. We didn’t set up some screens, and if you do not set up screens against them then you may not even be able to throw the ball in. They did a good job. That was a critical time in the game and they banked on their defense, which probably got four or five stops in a row including a layup on the other end. Again, it was the ebbs and flows and in that particular case we got some good looks at the basket, we got the ball to Daniel (Miller); we wanted to try and keep doing that. We rely heavily on two sophomores to make some plays in the situation we’re in, but unfortunately they didn’t shoot the ball well tonight and give Clemson credit for that.”

On his team’s injuries: “It’s funny; it must be the 100th time I’ve been asked that. It’s not a glib response, but what choice do they have. They’re playing in the best basketball conference in the country, they’re playing at a tradition-rich program, they came here for a reason. They knew it wasn’t going to be easy. They have to rely on their character and resolve during that time, and that’s why those guys were brought here. It’s tested. I’m not trying to say that it’s easy. It’s not easy on me either, but you have to have that. When you sign up for rebuilding, you have to have that. If things work out perfect, then obviously things look different. In this life you better fight, because if you’re looking for fairness, you aren’t getting it in this life.”

Team Notes

• Clemson won its 500th game in Littlejohn Coliseum on Tuesday, a 45-41 grinder over Georgia Tech. Coincidentally, Clemson’s first win in the facility that opened in 1968 was also a four-point win (76-72) over the same opponent, Georgia Tech.

• Clemson’s win was its ninth straight at home over Georgia Tech. It is the longest home winning streak over another ACC team, passing the eight straight over Virginia from 1959-66.

• With the win, Clemson has now won eight straight in the series against Georgia Tech, the Tigers’ longest streak since the 1971-82 era when they won 14 in a row.

• The Tigers moved to 8-0 this season when holding opponents to 50 or less. Clemson is also 27-2 under Head Coach Brad Brownell under this scenario.

• The eight games holding opponents to 50 points or less is a Clemson high in the 35-second shot clock era. The previous best was seven games, on two occasions.

• Clemson’s 45 points were the fewest in a home win over an ACC team since Jan. 28, 1971 when the Tigers defeated Virginia 45-44 in Littlejohn Coliseum.

• Clemson has matched its highest overall win total since the 2011-12 team won 16 games.

• The Tigers are 6-3 in the ACC, their best conference record through nine games since the 2008-09 team also achieved the same mark.

• Clemson improved to 3-1 this season in games decided by five points or less.

• For the first time this season, Clemson won a game in which it was not leading with five minutes to play.

• Clemson won the rebound margin 36-34 and is now 12-2 this season when out-rebounding the opposition.

• The Tiger bench outscored Tech’s reserves 16-2. Clemson is 10-2 this season when its bench outscores the opponent.

Player Notes

• Jordan Roper reached double figures for the eighth time this season, third-most on the team. He led Clemson with 12 points.

• Roper made multiple three-pointers for the second straight game, the first time this season he has done that.

• Rod Hall had six assists, the second straight game he has had at least six and the third time in ACC play.

• In 11 home games this season, Hall has a 41-to-7 assist-to-turnover ratio.

• Landry Nnoko took his first charge Tuesday. Jaron Blossomgame also took a charge, giving Clemson four over the past two games. It was his second this season.

• Blossomgame grabbed nine rebounds, which tied his second-highest total from this season. He had 14 against Duke on Jan. 11 and nine against UMass on Nov. 24.

• Nnoko pulled down four offensive rebounds, his high since recording six against Duke on Jan. 11.

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