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Men’s Hoops Stings Yellow Jackets, 70-58

Men’s Hoops Stings Yellow Jackets, 70-58

Feb. 2, 2000

Box Score| Quotes| Notes | Postgame Audio

By MARK PRATT Associated Press Writer

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) – Andrius Jurkunas stole the spotlight in a game that featured the top two scorers in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Clemson’s 6-foot-9 senior forward had a career-high 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead the Tigers (8-13, 2-6) to a 70-58 victory over Georgia Tech (9-11, 2-6) Wednesday night.

Jurkunas also limited Tech’s Jason Collier, the second-leading scorer in the ACC at 17.8 per game, to 10 points, his second-lowest total of the season.

With leading scorer Will Solomon (an ACC best 20.7 per game) having an off night, and another Clemson scorer Adam Allenspach on the bench with a bulging disc, someone had to step up for Clemson.

“Juice was fabulous,” Clemson coach Larry Shyatt said. “It was his finest effort as a Tiger at both ends.”

Jurkunas was 7 of 12 from the field, hit four 3-pointers, converted a couple of hard drives to the basket and sank a nice hook shot over Collier. When Solomon was double-teamed, he found Jurkunas wide open. Solomon had five assists.

“It just came naturally,” Jurkunas said. “I was open a couple of times, I hit my shots and my teammates were looking for me. It’s one of the better games I’ve played in a while.”

Sophomore Dustin Braddick also picked up some slack with a career-high 14 points and three steals.

Solomon finished with 17 points, but most came in the second half when the Tigers led by as many as 20. He missed his first five shots and failed to hit a 3-pointer for the first time in 25 games.

The Tigers used their league best defense to negate Tech’s height advantage and pull even with the Yellow Jackets at the bottom of the conference. Clemson came into the game limiting opponents to an ACC-best 39 percent shooting. By clogging up the lane and collapsing on the Yellow Jackets’ big men, Clemson held Georgia Tech to 35 percent shooting (20 of 58).

“We started choking the post with five people in the lane and we didn’t have to come off that because they weren’t hitting their outside shots,” Shyatt said.

With 7-footer Allenspach out, Clemson didn’t have a player taller than 6-9, but Georgia Tech’s Jason Collier (7-0) and Alvin Jones (6-11) could not take advantage.

Collier missed his first five shots and finished 3 of 10 from the field, although he did have a game-high 13 rebounds. Jones scored Tech’s first four points of the game, but attempted only one more shot the rest of the way. Tony Akins led the Yellow Jackets with 18, but was 7 for 18 from the field, including 2 of 10 on 3-pointers.

“We played without confidence and we played too tightly,” Georgia Tech coach Bobby Cremins said. “In order to win basketball games we need to play loosely and with confidence.”

The Yellow Jackets were also missing a key player. Jon Babul sat out his fourth-straight game with a strained right quadriceps.

Braddick got most of his points by driving to the basket. At one point in the second half, he drove through the lane, faked a pass that froze Georgia Tech’s defense and went in for an uncontested layup.

“Braddick was our unsung hero,” Shyatt said.

The Tigers led by as many as 20 in the second half when Solomon hit a free throw with just over eight minutes to play. The Yellow Jackets never got closer than 13 the rest of the way.

Braddick had six points in Clemson’s 13-4 first-half run that gave the Tigers a 23-18 halftime lead. Clemson shot only 38 percent in the half, but limited the Yellow Jackets to 30 percent. Georgia Tech had just two field goals in the last 12 minutes of the half.

Solomon and Collier were a combined 2 for 13 in the half.

The loss was Georgia Tech’s seventh straight at Littlejohn Coliseum. The Yellow Jackets have won just four of 28 games they’ve played at Littlejohn.