BLACKSBURG – Devin Wilson scored 14 points, but it wasn’t enough for Virginia Tech, which dropped another close game, this time to the Clemson Tigers by a score of 56-49 in an ACC game played Wednesday night at Cassell Coliseum.
Tech’s second straight loss left the Hokies at 8-8 overall on the season, 1-3 in the ACC. Clemson moved to 12-4 overall, 3-1 in league play.
“It was another tough loss for this young group,” Tech coach James Johnson said. “I thought we played well enough to win the game. We just didn’t play smart for 40 minutes. I thought we played hard and competed. I thought our young kids played extremely well. I thought we got decent enough looks. We just didn’t make them pay.”
Tech had its biggest lead of the game after point guard Devin Wilson hit the second of two free throws to give it a 36-30 lead with 14:01 remaining. But the Tigers responded by scoring the next 10 points. Damarcus Harrison and Adonis Filer hit 3-pointers in the run, as Clemson reclaimed the lead for good.
Clemson’s spurt ended up being a 16-4 run that ended when Jaron Blossomgame hit the second of two free throws that gave the Tigers a 46-40 lead with 6:37 left – their biggest lead of the game.
Clemson led 49-43 after K.J. McDaniels hit his lone 3-pointer of the night with 4:09 to go, but the Hokies scored six straight points, tying the game on Ben Emelogu’s 3-pointer with 2:01 left. Those were the Hokies’ last points of the game.
Filer broke the tie for the Tigers, driving to the basket and hitting a layup while getting fouled. He made the free throw, and three-point play with 1:24 remaining to give Clemson a 52-49 lead.
On their final four possessions, the Hokies missed three shots and two free throws, while the Tigers connected on 5 of 6 from the free-throw line in the final 1:24 to seal the game.
“I don’t think we’re necessarily playing bad,” Wilson said. “It’s just that, the last four or five minutes of the game, we’re falling off a little bit. If we can shore that up, we’ll win a lot of games.”
The Hokies got 14 points from Wilson and 11 each from Emelogu and Joey van Zegeren. Virginia Tech shot 41.7 percent against Clemson’s defense, which is ranked first nationally in scoring (53.9 ppg) and second in field-goal percentage (35.9 percent). But the Hokies hurt themselves by making just 4 of 14 from the free-throw line.
Virginia Tech has lost five of its past six games and hasn’t scored 60 points in any of the five losses. The Hokies’ leading scorer, Jarell Eddie, scored just three points against the Tigers.
“We’ve just got to relax and play on offense,” Johnson said. “We’ve got to find a way to get the upperclassmen going. We’ve got to find a way to get Eddie to put the ball in the hole. If Emelogu and Wilson can play like they’ve been playing, we’ll take that. We’ve just got to find a way to get Eddie put the ball in the hole.
“We’re practicing hard, and we’re playing hard. We’re competing. Part of it is youth. We’re counting on Emelogu and Wilson to do a lot, and when you do that in this league, in any league, it’s tough. They’re going to be really good. They’re just being forced into a lot of situations that they haven’t been in yet. They’re having to carry the team, and that’s tough for a couple of freshmen to do.”
McDaniels led the Tigers with 14 points, hitting 4 of 9 from the floor, including both 3-point attempts. Rod Hall added 11 points for the Tigers, who shot just 40.4 percent from the floor (19 of 47).
The Hokies continue ACC play next Sunday when they take on Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. Tipoff is slated for 6 p.m.
For updates on Virginia Tech men's basketball, follow the Hokies on Twitter Follow @VT_MBBall
For updates on the Hokies, follow Jimmy Robertson on Twitter Follow @jrobIHS