Tigers' bench sparks solid win

If No. 13 Clemson (22-4, 8-4) can find one more sharp-shooter in the last two weeks of the regular season, it could very well be one of the most dangerous teams in the nation come NCAA tournament time.

Sunday afternoon at Georgia Tech (10-16, 1-12), they may have found one, if not two.

After sleep-walking through the first 12 minutes of the game and trailing 27-12, it appeared the Tigers were headed down the same upsetting road they were a week ago at Virginia.

But then the unlikeliest of players stepped in to provide relief.

David Potter came off the bench with three three-pointers as part of a 18-2 run to help tie the game at halftime at 33 apiece before claiming an 81-73 road win with a strong second half.

"The three-point shot is a big part of weaponry to get us back in the game," Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell said. "But it was set up by pounding it inside, pounding it inside. We are doing a great job of passing the basketball right now."

K.C. Rivers set the tone early in the second half with a three-pointer and a 17-footer on the Tigers' first two possessions to quickly build a five-point lead that would not be relinquished.

"We've seen this act before when we've gotten behind on the road and comeback and won," Purnell said. "We didn't do it last week but I think the difference is we got into it earlier [today].

"We got the lead back before halftime and we came out of the half with the same kind of attack philosophy and really moved the basketball. The first half of the game we allowed them to be too comfortable."

Terrence Oglesby, who was sick with the flu and only scored five points, and Demontez Stitt also added three pointers moments later to extend the lead to nine.

But Georgia Tech would not go away.

After building the lead to 10, Georgia Tech's Lewis Clinch hit three pointers on three consecutive possessions to pull the Jackets within one, but a hook shot by Trevor Booker and a three-pointer by Andre Young quickly gave Clemson momentum right back.

Young, who ended up with 12 points, all on three-pointers, is quickly becoming the proven scorer off the bench the Tigers can depend on entering the last two weeks of the regular season.

"He's a fine outside shooter," Purnell said. "As a freshman that may not show itself early because so many times earlier in the year he wasn't ready to take the shot when it came to him.

Demontez Stitt scored nine points to go along with seven assists and just one turnover in Sunday's eight-point win over Georgia Tech.
"But he just looks more comfortable now to pull the trigger. Point guard play has been exceptional the last few games and that's huge."

Young's four second-half three-pointers were all in the second half and each one seemingly stopped a Yellow Jacket rally dead in its tracks.

Clinch, who scored 27 points, would add another three-pointer moments later but only had one shot attempt in the last 12 minutes of the game as the Tigers took control down the stretch behind Young and more senstational play by Booker inside.

Tech closed within five points at 64-59 with 7:42 remaining but could not get any closer as the Tigers maintained an eight to 10 point lead the rest of the way.

The win was Clemson's fifth in its last seven tries against the Yellow Jackets and the Tigers' first in Atlanta since 2006.

But still, the slow start which saw the Tigers trail by 15 points is something that has become more of a habit in recent weeks.

Purnell said while he wants his team to get better in that area, remember also the Tigers are playing in the toughest league in America.

"It's a bi-product of the league and the schedule we are playing because you are going to get down," he said. "The fact is that our guys don't lose their poise and we don't go off and junk everything we do.

"It's a combination of us and our opponents but we have to try to get better in that area. We've probably had four or five good starts that we'd like to see more, but the fact we have the ability to hang in there and do what we do is probably not a bad characteristic."

Clemson was led by Booker with 21 points and 12 rebounds. K.C. Rivers added 19 on 8-of-12 shooting.

Both teams shot the ball well, connecting on exactly 27-of-53 from the field but the difference came from behind the arc.

The Tigers shot 12-of-23 from three point range while Georgia Tech was 6-of-11.

With the win Clemson not only ties its number of regular season wins last year at 22, it also moves into a tie for second place in the ACC with Florida State at 8-4.

The Tigers return to the hardwood Wednesday night at home against Virginia Tech.

Tip-off is set for 7:30 PM.

NOTES: Andre Young has now made six three-pointers in a row going back to the Maryland game Tuesday night. ... Senior captain K.C. Rivers had two steals, giving him 201 for his career. ... Oliver Purnell tied the school record for ACC road wins with today's victory ... Both teams made 23-of-57 shots and both teams had exactly 16 assists.

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