Free throws help Clemson beat Virginia TechBy The Sports Xchange | The SportsXchange – Sun, Jan 27, 2013 6:30 PM EST
Making free throws paid off in a big way for Clemson's Milton Jennings on Sunday in the Tigers' 77-70 victory over Virginia Tech at Littlejohn Coliseum. The 6-foot-9 Jennings made 18 trips to the free-throw line and made 16 of those attempts as he scored a career-high 28 points in the win. Jennings free-throw efforts tied for the second-most made in school history. Butch Zatezal made all 17 attempts in a game against Maryland in 1969. "Milton (Jennings) played outstanding and hit a lot of clutch free throws," Brad Brownell said. "He rebounded the ball and was terrific down the stretch." Jennings hauled down 14 rebounds for the Tigers, also a career high. Damarcus Harrison also set a career mark with 19 points for the Tigers (11-8, 3-4). Erick Green, the nation's leading scorer who was coming off a 35-point performance against Virginia on Thursday, paced Virginia Tech (11-8, 3-3) with 25 points. But Green struggled in the second half, scoring his first bucket with less than 40 seconds left in the half. Green, naturally, was unhappy with his effort. "Very unhappy," he said. "I had a chance to make a lot of plays and I didn't do it. I shot the ball terrible from the field." Virginia Tech coach James Johnson lamented a missed opportunity to come away with a road victory. "All year long, this team has fought. They've worked hard, they've never quit, and they've never given up," he said. "They got down 12-0 and came back and took the lead on the road. Under four minutes, we're on the free-throw line with an opportunity to take another lead, and we miss the free throw." While the Hokies missed crucial free throws, the Tigers made theirs, and that was the difference. For the game, Clemson converted 23 of 29 from the charity stripe -- a season-high 79.3 percent. Virginia Tech made 23 of 32 from the line. The Hokies erased that early double-digit deficit and took the lead 59-58 with just over three minutes to play. But that's when Jennings and Harrison took over from the free-throw line and from behind the 3-point arc. A free throw by Jennings and a 3-point shot by Harrison put the Tigers up 64-60, and they never trailed again. Two more free throws and a bucket by Jennings and the Tigers led 68-62, and Clemson coasted from there. "Damarcus Harrison played like the guy I saw when I was recruiting him a couple of years ago," Brownell said "He was outstanding and played with so much more confidence. Harrison has had a great year for us defensively; he just hasn't played as well offensively as we thought he would." Harrison went 6-for-10 from the field, including 3 of 7 from long distance. Clemson made 10 of 21 3-point shots. Clemson jumped out to a 12-0 lead, forcing Virginia Tech into an 0-for-10 start from the field. Green finally stopped the bleeding for the Hokies with five straight points. Clemson maintained a six-to-eight-point margin for most of the first half until the Hokies went on a 12-2 run to tie the game at 33 at intermission. Green scored 10 of Virginia Tech's points in the run. The Hokies took their first lead at 36-35. The lead seesawed and Clemson led 50-47 when Brownell was whistled for the first technical foul of his career. The Hokies tied the game a minute later but Harrison connected from long range to put Virginia Tech back on top. NOTES: Clemson came into Sunday's game averaging five 3-pointers a game and, made 10 of them against the Hokies. ... The Tigers were the 12th team to hit eight or more 3-pointers against Tech this season. ... K.J. McDaniels and Harrison combined to hit eight of the Tigers' 10 3-pointers. ... The Tigers' Booker was battling the flu. He played 38 minutes, scored three points, and had 10 rebounds and three blocks.
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