Mar. 1, 1998
Box ScoreBy PETE IACOBELLIAP Sports Writer
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) – Greg Buckner made his last home start one of his best, scoring 29 points to salvage Clemson’s NCAA tournament chances in a 76-62 victory over Georgia Tech on Sunday.
Clemson (17-12, 7-9 Atlantic Coast Conference) was ranked No. 5 in the preseason poll, but lost seven league games by five points or less to find themselves in NCAA limbo.
The Tigers recovered by beating North Carolina State earlier in the week, and Buckner all but took them off the bubble with a stellar performance on Senior Day.
Buckner scored eight points as Clemson came back from a first-half deficit, then added 10 points as the Tigers began the second half with a 20-8 spurt to take a 54-38 lead.
Georgia Tech senior Matt Harpring hit a 3-pointer with 8:45 left as the Yellow Jackets cut it to 58-47. But they got no closer.
Harpring finished with 22 points.
Georgia Tech (17-13, 6-10) was also fighting for its NCAA life, but committed 24 turnovers to lose its third consecutive league game. The Yellow Jackets’ only hope now is a strong run in next week’s ACC tournament.
Buckner, Clemson’s leading scorer at 17 points a game, has had many standout moments in four years. Before the season, he said anything less than an NCAA championship would be a disappointment.
But after losing six of eight games in January, just getting in the 64-team field seemed a longshot.
Against Georgia Tech, Buckner’s basket with 5:56 left in the first half put Clemson ahead 22-21. He followed up a 3-point miss by Tony Christie with a layin to give the Tigers a 34-31 halftime lead.
He converted the first shot of the second half and closed the decisive run with a driving layup over Harpring.
Buckner was a point away from his career high of 30, set during his sophomore year and tied Jan. 3 against North Carolina.
About the only drama at the end was whether Buckner would break his career mark, but coach Rick Barnes took him out to a standing ovation with 34 seconds left.
Harpring was about the only one on target for Georgia Tech. Dion Glover, the freshman guard who scored 27 points against Clemson on Feb. 4, was held to 11 points on 4-for-12 shooting.
Senior Michael Maddox had 15 points for the Yellow Jackets, but just three after halftime.
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