Jan. 29, 2009
Box Score | Game Action
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) – Those questions about whether Clemson is for real? Forget ’em.
K.C. Rivers hit seven 3-pointers and scored 29 points and the 12th-ranked Tigers rallied from a 15-point deficit in the second half to beat Virginia Tech 86-82 on Thursday night.
The Tigers (18-2, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) used an 18-0 run to turn the big deficit into the lead with 10 minutes left, then outscored the Hokies 8-2 over the final 2:08.
It was the Tigers’ second straight win after losses to Wake Forest and at North Carolina, and was all the more impressive because it came in front of a packed house primed to see their team climb into the Top 25, and despite a career-best 37 points from the Hokies’ Malcolm Delaney.
“He was lights out tonight,” Rivers said of his counterpart. “We stayed sound on defense. We took his best shot and we ratcheted it up toward the end when it really counted.”
And it wasn’t just Rivers who made big shots. Trevor Booker added 21 points and 13 rebounds for the Tigers and David Potter hit a tie-breaking 3-pointer with 1:24 remaining.
“I wasn’t alone,” Rivers said. “I had guys running with me. Booker was running with me in the first half, and we got more guys running with me in the second half and we pulled it off.”
Led by Rivers’ 7-for-10 performance, the Tigers were 14-for-25 from beyond the arc, and the number of wide open chances they knocked down left Delaney shaking his head.
“We had the game in our hands, and this was one of the games that we could have hopefully been a Top 25 team coming out,” he said. “But we’ve still got a lot more chances. … We’ve got to work harder on `D.’ We’re a team that shuts people down. That’s how we get wins.”
Jeff Allen had 13 points and nine rebounds and A.D. Vassallo scored 10 points, eight below his average, for Virginia Tech (14-6, 4-2), which lost despite shooting 51.7 percent.
Delaney was 11-of-16 from the field, including 6-of-9 on 3s. One of them came at the buzzer to end the first half – a 60-foot shot that swished through as the horn sounded.
Trailing by six points with 7 1/2 minutes left, the Hokies took the lead with a 13-4 run. Delaney had seven points in the burst, including a 3-pointer from the top of the key to end it and give Virginia Tech a 79-76 lead with 3:24 to play. It was his sixth 3-pointer.
That put the onus back on Rivers and the Tigers to answer, and they did.
Booker had a putback and Potter scored on a drive around a free throw by Allen. Potter added his 3-pointer before Rivers came off a screen and followed Dorenzo Hudson’s layup with his shot from the top of the key with 48 seconds left that gave the Tigers an 85-82 lead.
The Hokies never scored again, and Clemson left feeling better about itself.
“This is a a big win for us as far as our standings in the ACC, but we got a tough ballgame coming up Wednesday,” Rivers said. “We’ve got to turn our focus on to (No. 1) Duke.”
The Hokies scored eight of the first 10 points after halftime to open a 61-46 lead, but starting with a free throw by Potter, Clemson scored 18 consecutive points. Rivers had seven, Demontez Stitt hit two 3-pointers and the Tigers led 66-63 with 10:18 to play.
Two more 3-pointers by Rivers boosted the lead to 72-66 before the Hokies rallied.
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