Ending nine-game skid against Clemson next on Georgia Tech's to-do list

Brian Gregory: 'You have to play really well because they’re good ... that, in my opinion, is an NCAA tournament team'

Clemson center Landry Nnoko fights for a ball at Georgia Tech Saturday. (AP Photo)

Clemson center Landry Nnoko fights for a ball at Georgia Tech Saturday. (AP Photo)

Georgia Tech is adding to its short-term objectives, one game at a time.

Having advanced in ACC tournament play for the first time under coach Brian Gregory, the Yellow Jackets now take aim at ending Clemson's nine-game stranglehold in the series.

The Tigers have swept the Jackets, home and away, for four straight seasons, including 45-41 and 63-55 victories this season.

"We've stayed strong and done a lot of good things," said Gregory after the Jackets improved to 16-16 with an overtime victory over Boston College Wednesday night. "We won back to back ACC games, and we hadn’t done that in three years. We win three straight against Georgia, and we’ve beaten some ranked opponents on the road.

"One thing that wasn’t up there was to advance in the ACC tournament. And so I think our guys have done a good job of setting some short term objectives, and then when they meet them, still hungry enough to try to set another one."

In the Tigers' 45-41 win earlier this season at Littlejohn Coliseum, Jordan Roper was Clemson’s lone player in double figures with 12. The Tigers shot just 32 percent from the floor, while Tech shot 36 percent.

In the second game in Atlanta, Clemson overcame a six-point deficit for its fifth halftime rally of the season. The Tigers shot 50 percent in the second half of the second game, led by Damarcus Harrison.

Gregory said it will take a 40-minute, hard-nosed effort to end Clemson's winning streak in the series.

"You have to play really well because they’re good," Gregory said of the Tigers. "I don’t know how those guys figure stuff out, but that, in my opinion, is an NCAA tournament team. How many wins do they have in our league? 10 or 11? 10-8 is that what they were? You win 10 games in this league, you probably can win a couple games in the NCAA Tournament.

"You have to play extremely hard, and you’ve got to have great toughness because they’re a tough team. They defend you well, they rebound the ball well, they have one of the premier players in the league in KJ McDaniels. They have a hard-nosed point guard in Rod Hall, and they have a couple guys off the bench, their second guards have always hurt us. Last game it was who was it? Harrison.

"And Landry Nnoko has made as big a jump as a player as anybody in our league. They’ve got all the pieces: they’re big, they’re hard to score on, and they’re efficient on offense. We’re going to have to play a 40 minute, hard-nosed, very well executed game."

Tonight's ACC tournament meeting will be the fourth between the Tigers and Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech has won all three games, including a 79-61 victory at Greensboro Coliseum in 1986.

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