BLACKSBURG, Va. — In their first ACC contest of the season, No. 24 Clemson took on Virginia Tech in a defensive battle at Cassell Coliseum. The Tigers mounted a second-half comeback on Tuesday but ultimately came up short, with the Hokies winning 66-60 and handing Clemson its first loss.
Clemson (5-1, 0-1) connected on 10 3-pointers and finished with an overall shooting percentage of 38.0. Virginia Tech (5-1, 1-0) shot 40.9 percent from the floor and made the most of its trips to the charity stripe by making 25-of-31 free throws. The Tigers forced 17 turnovers, which led to 11 points being scored, and pulled off seven steals. They also grabbed 25 rebounds, tallied 10 assists and blocked six shots. The Hokies pulled down 33 rebounds and scored 24 points in the paint.
Al-Amir Dawes led all scorers with 18 points on 6-of-14 shooting from the floor and 1-of-2 shooting at the free throw line. Five of Dawes’ six made field goals came from beyond the arc. In addition to sinking five 3-pointers, Dawes recorded three assists and a team-high four rebounds. Aamir Simms tabbed 15 points to go along with his three boards and went a perfect 6-for-6 on free throw attempts. Clyde Trapp and Jonathan Baehre, who each registered three rebounds, finished with nine points and seven points, respectively.
At the 4:30 mark of the first half, Simms blocked a shot, and Trapp knocked down a three in transition, trimming the Hokies’ lead to 19-17. A few minutes later, Trapp assisted on a Dawes 3-pointer that provided Clemson with its first lead of the game at 24-23. Dawes hit another trey late in the first half, but a 9-3 Virginia Tech run to close out the half resulted in the Hokies leading 32-27 at the intermission.
Early in the second half, Dawes netted a pull-up jumper, giving him 12 straight points for the Tigers. However, the Hokies proceeded to produce an 11-0 run after that, culminating in them going up 45-29 with 12:36 remaining. The Tigers came alive at that point and chipped away at their deficit. A pair of free throws by Simms with two minutes left pulled the Tigers to within two points, but the Hokies never gave up their lead down the stretch and came away with a 66-60 win.
Next up for the Tigers is a home matchup against the Morehead State Eagles (4-4) on Monday, Dec. 21. The contest at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson, S.C., is scheduled to tip off at noon and air on ACC Network. Tickets are available at clemsontigers.com/tickets.
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Head Coach Brad Brownell
Opening statement:“I give Virginia Tech a lot of credit. They were ready and looked energized. I was nervous about it. That was a hard game with Alabama on Saturday , and we just didn’t quite have our usual pace tonight. [Virginia Tech] matched our effort and played just as hard as we did. There were a couple of loose balls that didn’t go our way. I’m certainly proud of how our kids responded after they got down big. They made a game of it. We just couldn’t quite get over the hump. We didn’t have as much juice as we had the previous five games.”
On the keys to the game:“I felt like we got off a lot of good shots. It just looked like we didn’t quite have our legs under us. Virginia Tech did a good job of making things hard on us. They outplayed us and executed a little bit better than we did. Al-Amir [Dawes] played well. He had a lot of juice tonight and got off to a good start. Virginia Tech was really ready, though. They had a week to prepare, and they put us on our heels from the start.”