Clemson received career-high scoring efforts out of Milton Jennings (28) and Damarcus Harrison (19) to propel the Tigers to a 77-70 victory on Sunday over Virginia Tech in front of 7,980 fans at Littlejohn Coliseum. The win improved the Tigers to 11-8 overall, 3-4 in ACC play. Tech fell to 11-8 overall and 2-4 in the league.
Jennings added 14 rebounds to tie a career-high in that category. The 6-foot-9 Jennings went to the line 18 times and made 16 free throws – the most by any Clemson player since the late Butch Zatezalo made 16 against Wake Forest in 1969. It tied for the second-most made in school history. Zatezalo made all 17 attempts versus Maryland in 1968.
Harrison scored 19 points in Sunday's game, eclipsing his previous high of 15 against SC State last month. The sophomore made 6-of-10 shots, including 3-of-7 from long distance. Clemson made 10-of-21 three-point baskets, its most since making 12 against UTEP in the Old Spice Classic in November.
The Tigers shot 45 percent for the game, but converted an ACC-high 23-of-29 at the charity stripe – a season-high 79.3 percent for Clemson. Virginia Tech shot just 35 percent from the field, but made 23-of-32 at the line. The Tigers won the rebounding battle, 42-33, as both Jennings and starting center Devin Booker (10) had double-digit totals. Booker was under the weather with flu-like symptoms for a second straight game.
Clemson jumped out to a 12-0 lead after forcing Virginia Tech into an 0-for-10 start from the field. Four different players scored in the run, including McDaniels, who buried a pair of threes from the left wing to make it a 12-point cushion. Green stopped the bleed with five straight points before Jarell Eddie hit a couple of freebies to cut the lead to 16-7.
Marquis Rankin cut the deficit to seven at 21-14 with his ninth made three-pointer of the season, but Rod Hall answered on the other end with a three. Eddie and Christian Beyer connected on consecutive trips to cut the lead to 26-20 before Jordan Roper responded with a long-range shot of his own.
Green scored 10 out of the Hokies' 12 points in a 12-2 run to pull Tech even with the Tigers at 33 apiece at intermission.
Eddie's long trey gave Tech its first lead at 36-35 a minute into the second frame. Back-to-back threes by McDaniels and Harrison went to give Clemson a 41-39 lead, but Rankin buried his second trifecta to quiet the crowd moments later. After a Harrison jumper and a stop on the defensive end, McDaniels soared through the air on a Booker miss for a putback slam to give the Tigers a 45-42 edge.
Clemson led 50-47 when Tiger Head Coach Brad Brownell was whistled for the first technical foul of his career. The Hokies knotted the game a minute later when Eddie made two of three free from the line after being fouled on the wing. The tie was broken with Harrison's second trey inside the nine minute mark. Jennings scored on a putback to make it 55-52 and followed by taking a charge by Green on the opposite end.
McDaniels stroked his fifth three of the game to push the lead to 58-54, but Eddie answered with a three-point play to pull VT within one. Brown followed with a driving layup to give the Hokies their first lead in a long while at 59-58, prompting a Brownell timeout with 4:25 left. The lead built to four a 64-60 on Harrison's 17th points.
Jennings followed with a 10-footer to make it 66-62 with 1:55 remaining. Ahead four, Eddie tried a drive through the lane but McDaniels rose up for a rejection to end the Tech threat. Green missed a three inside the final minute that allowed the lead to stretch to seven, and he made a pair of layups to close Tech within four. But Jennings had an answer with a block and rebound inside the final 15 seconds to all but end the game.
The Tigers stay at home to take on Georgia Tech in two days. The Tigers and Yellow Jackets will tip off at 7:00 PM Tuesday at Littlejohn Coliseum. Tickets are available at ClemsonTigers.com and by calling 1-800-CLEMSON.