Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell discusses Sunday night's win over Georgia Tech.
No. 9 Clemson (17-2, 3-2) ended its two-game losing streak by putting away pesky Georgia Tech (9-10, 0-6) with a 27-6 run in a 73-59 win.
In the process, the Tigers are also starting to find another quality option in the post in sophomore forward Jerai Grant.
Grant, who started the second half in place of Raymond Sykes, scored 10 points, grabbed four rebounds and blocked two shots in what was his most productive ACC game of the year.
"Jerai has been playing well for us all year long. He had been shooting the ball well until the last three games," Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell said afterwards. "But in our plus-minus chart at halftime he was was plus 14 [Clemson outscored Georgia Tech by 14 points with Grant in the game]. So we started him in the second half.
"He was a key for us playing well."
Grant finished the game a perfect 4-for-4 from the field and 2-for-2 from the free throw line.
"I was happy," Grant said about getting the start after intermission. "I'm thinking about the game, not myself. I'm thinking about what's going to help the team win."
BR> The first half looked as if the Tigers were still trying to find their way after back to back losses to two of the top-ranked teams in the nation in No. 6 North Carolina and No. 3 Wake Forest more than anything else.
Clemson made just 12-of-30 shots while struggling to establish any momentum after building a slim 37-34 lead.
However a layup by Trevor Booker, a three-pointer by K.C. Rivers from the right wing followed by a Grant dunk quickly gave the Tigers a 10-point cushion to open the second half.
It was exactly what Clemson's sixth-year head coach wanted to see.
"We really did a good job sprinting into the half and sprinting out of the half," Purnell said. "We haven't done that very well in the previous three or four games. This was probably one of them that we won."
Just a few seconds after Grant's dunk, Georgia Tech freshman Iman Shumpert drilled a three with 17:11 left to pull the Jackets with seven, but Tech would get no closer than the rest of the way.
"I wasn't particularly pleased with how we ended the last six minutes as far as missing free throws, but I'm very pleased to get the win."
Terrence Oglesby led the Tigers with 18 points- with all but three coming from behind the three-point arc. Georgia Tech was led by Gani Lawal with 14.
Booker led Clemson with 11 boards to go along with 11 points.
The road doesn't get any easier from here on out as Thursday night Clemson travels to Blacksburg, Va. to face off with ACC-rival Virginia Tech. The Hokies are just three days removed from beating previously undefeated and No. 1-ranked Wake Forest.
After the Clemson hosts what should be the nation's new No. 1 team the following Wednesday night- Duke.
"It was [an important win]," Purnell said. "We've paired games up mentally this year. We have Virginia Tech and Duke up next and those are two tough games."
NOTES: Clemson converted on 23-of-31 free throws for the game (74.1 percent). ... It was the fifth win in the last seven tries for Clemson against the Yellow Jackets. ... K.C. Rivers now needs just 12 three-point goals to become Clemson's career leader. He has 248 and the record is 259 by former Clemson point guard Terrell McIntyre.
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