By Justin Mathis
CLEMSON, S.C. – Over the past two games, the Clemson offense had been a bit out of sync due to Shelton Mitchell’s absence, caused by a blow to the head he suffered back on February 14th in a road loss to Florida State. On Saturday, Mitchell returned to action as the Tigers looked to end a three game losing streak.
Aided by Mitchell’s return, another Tiger settled back into a groove offensively, which allowed 15th-ranked Clemson to rally in the second half and claim a 75-67 victory over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in front of a sellout crowd at Littlejohn Coliseum.
Over the past couple of games, Gabe DeVoe has dealt with some shooting woes, specifically from the perimeter, missing 12 of his last 14 tries from distance. On Clemson’s first possession, head coach Brad Brownell drew up a play specifically for DeVoe, who knocked down a triple from the wing to tie the game at three with less than a minute into the game.
“I was able to knock (the shot) in and get it going offensively,” DeVoe said. “It was huge. He (Coach Brownell) believes in me, my teammates believe in me. I’m continuing to play with confidence and not let those two games bother my confidence. It was a gritty win – just being able to tough it out, kind of like my career, honestly. Just continue to fight and find a way – we were able to do that down the stretch.”
Fittingly, the Shelby, North Carolina native stepped up on Senior Day and helped the Tigers when they needed it.
A layup from DeVoe at the 10:20 mark of the second stanza kick started a blistering 22-3 run, which spanned the next nine minutes and 32 seconds and propelled the Tigers from an 11 point deficit to an eight point lead, 69-61, with 48 seconds remaining, where he capped it off with a deep three pointer.
DeVoe scored a game-high 25 points on seven for 13 shooting (4 for 7 from the arc), which ties his career-high that was set back on January 28th in Atlanta during the first matchup between the two clubs. Clemson won that contest 72-70.
Shelton Mitchell finished with 14 points in his return to game action for Clemson, while Elijah Thomas and Marcquise Reed each finished with 13 points apiece.
“Proud of my team for the way we came back and won today,” Brownell added. “I don’t think we played our best basketball, but I thought the Georgia Tech kids played well. We got off to a great start, 17-7, and guys were making shots, and I think maybe we thought the game was going to be a little easier than it turned out to be. I thought Gabe was fantastic for us throughout the game. It was great to have Shelton back. Those guys were the difference makers for us.”
Georgia Tech had trouble making several wide open layups and ran into an obstacle as three starters ended up being mired in foul trouble. One of the bright spots for the Yellow Jackets, who are without point guard Jose Alvarado due to injury, was Josh Okogie, who posted a team-high 22 points on 8 for 12 shooting.
In the second half, Clemson was 11 for 20 (55%) from the field, while Georgia Tech was 11 for 34 (32.4%).
“We don’t have any margin for error to miss the layups we missed,” Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner remarked. “Last game against Virginia, we missed so many point blank layups and we did it again today. It’s a recipe for disaster. We’ve got to win, we’ve got to get a win. We’ve got to find a way to win some of these games. We’ve got two home games (left) to try to do the best we can and get a win… We’re getting better. We’ve had literally like eight different teams this year because of our injuries.”
(video by Justin Mathis)
Tadric Jackson and Ben Lammers also finished in double figures, scoring 13 and 11 points, respectively, for the Yellow Jackets, who dropped their seventh game in a row and have now lost 11 of their last 12 games.
Clemson (21-7, 10-6 ACC) will host Florida State on Wednesday, February 28th at 9 PM, which marks the last regular season home game for the Tigers.
Georgia Tech (11-18, 4-12) will return home to McCamish Pavilion, where they will clash with North Carolina State on Thursday, March 1st at 8 PM.