Quotes, Notes & Numbers: Tigers have found the right side of 'close game' dividing line

GT's Brian Gregory: 'When you’re good, you win 80 percent...Clemson has won those, and that’s why they are 8-6 in the league'

Men's Basketball - Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory & Clemson head coach Brad Brownell meet before the game

Photo by Mark Crammer

Men's Basketball - Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory & Clemson head coach Brad Brownell meet before the game

Clemson's Brad Brownell

“It’s certainly a big win for our team. I thought we didn’t quite have the energy that we needed early on, and credit Georgia Tech. I thought they were really ready and controlled the first half. Our guys just did a better job (in the second half). We didn’t make any major adjustments; we just guarded harder. It really helped us and got our energy going.

"Then we made some shots. When Damarcus (Harrison) makes a couple of threes it really helps our team balance in terms of scoring. I thought our defense led to some transition shots and some baskets. We did some good things execution-wise down the stretch. K.J. [McDaniels] was really good today, just a normal game for him. Then Adonis Filer gave us a good lift off the bench in the second half. He helped our defense pick up the pressure a little bit and start getting into the ball.”

On improving on the glass as the game progressed: “It helped us get some extra possessions. Georgia Tech is always a very good rebounding team. That was certainly a point of emphasis in the game. We think that they do a great job rebounding and we’ve been pretty good. We’ve been pretty good at offensive rebounding, but our defensive rebounding has come and gone. It did get us some extra possessions.

"Josh Smith got us a put-back, maybe two, in the second half. Those were big. I know we got another offensive rebounding and a three out of it as well. Those are certainly extra possessions and those are the energy plays that I’m talking about that I didn’t think we were making in the first 20 minutes. I challenged our guys at half and they responded. We played a really good second half.”

On slowing down Tech's Daniel Miller in the second half: “We didn’t do anything drastically different. We pressured the ball a little bit more and maybe that made it a little harder to get it inside. I think it was just better effort from our guys. It was a little more effort, a little more intensity. I’m a big Daniel Miller fan. I think he’s a very good player. We were fortunate to do the job we did on him in the second half.

On Landry Nnoko’s performance: “Landry was good today. He made a couple baskets early. We probably should have gone back to him a little bit more at the end of the first half. We went away from him and that was a mistake on my part. He was very good. He was active at the rim and always does a solid job defensively. His length is a factor when we get him the ball in good enough position. He’s an improving offensive player.

"He’s not there yet, but he’s one of those guys who have improved a great deal. The turnovers in the first half really hurt us. He had three of them. He didn’t have any in the second half. Those extra possessions really helped us. And those eight turnovers in the first half really hurt when you’re playing a low possession game. That’s a problem.”

On Demarcus Harrison performance in the final 10 minutes: “We have a lot of confidence in Damarcus and we’ve been waiting for him to play like this for most of the year. He’s played better here of late. He had 14 against N.C. State and had 15 tonight. It’s good to see his three go in. I know he’s worked hard on it.

"When he has good life and good energy, Damarcus is a different player. He had a big steal in the second half and made the ‘and-1’. That was a big play. Those are the energy type plays that I am consistently on Damarcus about. Not to worry so much about his shooting or whatever else it is. Just become an energy guy and your offense will take care of itself.

"And certainly because of the play of K.J. (McDaniels) he’s going to draw attention and some of the other guys are going to get open shots. Rod (Hall) got some open threes, Damarcus got a three and Adonis (Filer) got a couple. Fortunately for us, we may have been at one point 1-for-14 or 2-for-14, but we ended up making a couple late and that’s really the difference in the game.”

What do the four conference road wins in 2013-14 mean to you: “I guess it means we’re doing OK in the league. I don’t know. I know at Clemson we haven’t had a lot of road wins over the years. But I am very proud of our team. We are maximizing our ability. We are playing at maximum level for us most nights. That’s what you want as a coach is for your guys to play to their ability level and compete. Hopefully we are feeling good about ourselves and now we have a chance to go get one at Wake.”

Georgia Tech's Brian Gregory

“Unfortunately, it was a similar situation to a couple of games in the league earlier where a couple of key points in the game we weren’t able to execute offensively (and) we turned the ball over. Just looking from the 18-minute mark to the 12-minute mark, that’s six minutes were we had five or six turnovers in that stretch. That puts you in difficult situation, especially when it’s going to be a low possession game.

“The second key was that they got some big offensive rebounds at crucial points. We did not rebound the ball well. On the stats, it’ll say it was even but it wasn’t. They got the big ones when they needed them.

“Even with all that being said, with five minutes to go it was a tie game. At that particular point, at home or the road, you have to figure out a way to win the game. We weren’t able to do that.”

On close games: “We don’t inherently have the consistency and the toughness, both mental toughness and physical toughness, you need to win all those games. We’ve probably won 30 or 40 percent. When you’re good, you win 80 percent of those. Clemson has won those, and that’s why they are 8-6 in the league. The season is going to be determined by those games. With eight minutes to go it’s a one or two possession game, how many do you win? Every win has been like that. Four of those were wins, we’ve probably lost six or seven of them.”

On Robert Carter Jr: “I thought he was making progress, but he didn’t play well today. He’d be the first one to admit it. He was off rhythm. I think he was moving pretty good. It’s a broken record but we’re banged up. Kam hasn’t practiced in the last three days. I thought he gave a good effort. We needed him on the glass. He gave us 20 minutes.”

On turnovers: “A lot of the turnovers weren’t right on the ball. There was a one-handed catch, a possession where you didn’t need to throw the pass and ends up in the backcourt. When you have that many in that amount of time, there are probably a lot of reasons to it. One could be their pressure, and another could be a lazy cut or a one-handed pass. I think it was a multitude sins. If it was just one thing, it’d be easier to figure out.”

Team Notes

· With their victory on Saturday, the Tigers are now 17-9 overall and 8-6 in the ACC.

· It was Clemson’s fourth ACC road win this season, only the fifth time in 61 seasons in the conference the program has won at least four road games.

· Clemson swept Georgia Tech for the fourth consecutive regular season. It was the 11th sweep for the Tigers over the Yellow Jackets, one shy of Clemson’s record mark of 12 over Virginia.

· The Tigers have won nine straight games over Georgia Tech, their most as a program over another ACC school since 11 consecutive wins over Virginia from 1960-64.

· Clemson won its fourth straight game at Georgia Tech, the most consecutive road wins for the program over another ACC school since winning five in a row at Virginia between 1960 and 1965.

· The Tigers overcame their fifth halftime deficit to win this season, the most in a season since the 2007-08 team also overcame five. Clemson’s record is six by the 1989-90 team.

· Clemson won points in the paint, 34-20. The Tigers are 11-1 this season when winning the statistic.

Player Notes

· K.J. McDaniels reached double figures for the 23rd time in 26 games this season.

· McDaniels led the Tigers with 16 points and added a career-high tying four steals.

· McDaniels blocked two shots, his eighth straight game with multiple blocks.

· Damarcus Harrison posted 15 points, giving him back to back double digit scoring performances for only the second time this season. It was the first time he went double figures back to back since the first two games of 2013-14.

· Harrison went 3-for-4 from three Saturday, his most made threes in a game since also making three against Davidson on Nov. 22. It was the fifth time he made at least three in a single game.

· Landry Nnoko posted 13 points to match his career-high against SC State. It set his career-high against an ACC team, surpassing the 12 he had at North Carolina.

· Nnoko tied a career-high with five made field goals.

· Rod Hall tallied six assists against no turnovers in 30 minutes of play Saturday. It was his first game without a turnover since the VMI game on Dec. 30.

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