|Virginia Tech (11-8, 2-4 ACC)||33||37||70|
|Clemson (11-8, 3-4 ACC)||33||44||77|
CLEMSON, S.C. – Virginia Tech’s Erick Green and Jarell Eddie combined for 44 points, but it wasn’t enough, as the Hokies fell 77-70 to Clemson in an ACC game played at Littlejohn Coliseum on Sunday afternoon.
With the loss, the Hokies fell to 11-8 overall, 2-4 in the ACC. Clemson moved to 11-8 overall, 3-4 in league play.
Tech led 59-58 with 4:35 left in the game following a Robert Brown layup, but Clemson’s Milton Jennings took the game over down the stretch. The senior scored 20 of his game-high 28 points in the second half, but 12 of those points came in the final 3:44. Jennings, who hit 16 of 18 from the free-throw line, hit 10 of 12 from the stripe in that stretch.
The big blow for the Hokies came when they trailed 61-60 with less three minutes remaining. As the shot clock was winding down, Clemson’s Damarcus Harrison nailed a 3-pointer from the corner to give the Tigers a 64-60 edge with 2:48 to go. Tech C.J. Barksdale scored on a stick-back with 2:29 remaining to cut the lead to two, but Jennings answered with a basket at the 2:02 mark, and the Hokies got no closer than four the rest of the way.
“They made shots the whole game,” Eddie said. “They were able to hurt us from the 3-point line, and later in the game, they were able to make so many plays. The ball just went their way.”
Harrison’s 3-pointer was the last of Clemson’s 10 3-pointers for the game. The Tigers, who came into the game shooting just 32 percent from behind the arc, nailed 10 of 21 (47.6 percent), with most of those coming against the Hokies’ 2-3 zone.
K.J. McDaniels, who was shooting 30.8 percent from beyond the 3-point arc, hit a career-high five 3-pointers on his way to 17 points, while Harrison hit three 3’s en route to 19 points.
“They made shots,” Tech coach James Johnson said. “They came in last in the league (10th in 3-point field-goal percentage), and we weren’t in a position where I thought we could guard their post guys inside. We had to try to play some statistics and play some zone and make them do something they can’t do, or haven’t done – and they made shots tonight.
“You watch the tape, and they had the same looks against others teams. They hadn’t knocked those shots down. It seemed like it was, ‘Get well against the Hokies.’”
Green, the nation’s leading scorer coming in at 25.2 points per game, led the Hokies with 25 points. But the senior didn’t hit a field goal in the second half until scoring on a layup with 37 seconds left. He tried to get the Hokies back in it in the final minute, scoring Tech’s final eight points in the last 1:17 of the game.
“Every chance they got … they got opportunities,” Green said. “Every time you get an opportunity, you have to finish. They finished, and we didn’t finish.”
Eddie added 19 points for the Hokies, who shot just 35 percent from the floor. Tech fell into a 12-0 hole to start the game, missing its first 10 shots, but the Hokies rallied to tie things at halftime. The second half featured eight lead changes.
“We’ve just got to keep getting better,” Green said. “Day by day. Just keep working.”
Things get no easier for the Hokies, who take on league-leading Miami next Wednesday night at Cassell Coliseum. Tip-off is slated for 9 p.m.
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