Last minute dooms Clemson in Atlanta
Trevor Booker
CUTigers.com
Posted Jan 19, 2010


ATLANTA - With the score tied at 64, Trevor Booker was whistled for a third personal foul with 3.2 seconds to play, sending Zachery Peacock to the line to shoot two free throws.

Peacock made the shots, giving No. 18 Georgia Tech the advantage and sealing the 66-64 win over No. 16 Clemson.

After the game, Booker said didn’t agree with the call, and neither did the contingent of orange and purple clad Tiger fans sprinkled throughout Alexander Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday night.

“It wasn’t a foul. That’s all I’ve got to say,” Booker said.

When asked about the play, head coach Oliver Purnell offered no comment.

Clemson had a chance for a buzzer beater on the ensuing possession and Demontez Stitt was to “fly” over the top and receive the pass from Jerai Grant. But the pass was a touch too long and the Tigers were unable to even attempt a desperation shot.

“It was tough sledding with three seconds to go, but we wanted Demontez to take it out, throw it…out of bounds and then we throw it over the top,” Purnell said. “Maybe he just didn’t have enough juice to run it down.”

Stitt’s status was uncertain until the 11 a.m. shoot-around when he was given the go-ahead to play after suffering a foot sprain Saturday against N.C. State. But he finished with 10 points in 36 minutes on the court.

Booker's foul wasn't the only controversial play in the final minute.

On the Clemson possession prior to Peacock’s free throws, with the game tied, Stitt claims his arm was grabbed on his drive to the basket. The ball was knocked loose from his possession and bounced out-of-bounds off his leg.

“They didn’t call it. You’ve got to play through it,” he said.

With the loss, Clemson drops to 15-4 overall (3-2 ACC) while Georgia Tech improves to 14-4 (3-2 ACC).

“I’m very disappointed,” Booker said. “We could have done some things better. We’ll go back and watch film, correct some things.”

The difference in the game, he said, was offensive rebounding.

“They were more aggressive than us,” Booker said.

With Jerai Grant in early foul trouble, the Yellow Jackets capitalized down-low, out-rebounding the Tigers 52-43, including 22 on the offensive end. Had Grant not been limited to just 16 minutes, Booker said it would have helped down low, though he wasn’t using to make an excuse.

“People get in foul trouble some games, other people have to step up,” he said.

Booker scored a game-high 19, almost getting a double-double with nine rebounds--a team-high.

Freshman forward Derrick Favors scored a team-high 17 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for Georgia Tech. Junior forward Gani Lawal also had a double-double, scoring 16 and pulling down 10 off the glass.

Down 35-31 at halftime, Clemson managed to claw its way back in, taking the 64-62 lead with 1:25 left to play after Booker knocked down a pair of free throws. In total, the game saw seven lead changes and six ties.

Clemson started the game a 9-2 run--the Tigers’ largest lead of the game.

With 10:23 to play in the first half, Georgia Tech took a 13-11 lead, ending Clemson’s streak of 128 consecutive minutes without trailing. From there, the Yellow Jackets went on a 18-10.

“Their defense can cover so much ground with their long defenders,” said Tanner Smith. “I tried to get into the game fast. I think I did a good job with that. I wasn’t able to continue that through the game.”

Smith finished the game with 10 points, six rebounds and a team-high three assists.

“(Purnell) said to keep our head up--we played hard, and just learn from our mistakes,” Booker said.

Clemson gets the day off on Wednesday, then it’s back to work with Duke scheduled for 9 p.m. on Saturday at Littlejohn Coliseum.

“It’s going to be a wild place. It’s going to be the place to be in South Carolina,” Smith said. “I’m really excited. I can’t wait.”



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