Georgia Tech heads to Clemson for key ACC matchup

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Two teams at critical junctures in their season will meet Friday night when Georgia Tech and Clemson battle in a key Atlantic Coast Conference game at Clemson's Littlejohn Coliseum.

Both teams are at or slightly above .500 in league play heading into the season's home stretch.

After suffering lopsided feats against Virginia, Georgia Tech, Florida State and Duke, Clemson (12-5, 6-5 ACC) has rebounded to post back-to-back decisive victories of its own, beating North Carolina by 13 points and Syracuse by 17 in its last two games.

"We're fighting to do the things we want to do," Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. "All of these games are important. Hopefully, we're getting a little of our confidence back. Guys seeing some balls go in the basket rejuvenates them a little bit."

The Tigers also will be seeking to avenge an 18-point loss at Georgia Tech on Jan. 20. The Yellow Jackets' Michael Devoe scored 22 points and made 6-of-7 shots from 3-point range in that lopsided victory, and Georgia Tech's Jordan Usher, Moses Wright and Devoe combined to make 13-of-17 attempts from long range.

"If we're going to beat Clemson on Friday, we're going to have to make threes," Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner said. "The first time we beat Clemson we had 16 of them."

The Yellow Jackets (9-7, 5-5) were unable to find the range in a 57-49 loss Wednesday night to league-leading Virginia that snapped Tech's 11-game ACC home winning streak. Devoe, in particular, struggled against the Cavaliers, making only 1-of-10 shots from the floor and going 0-for-5 on 3-pointers.

"It's hard for us to win if Mike's not shooting the ball well," Pastner said. "That's just the reality of it. A big part of what we are and who we are is three-point shooting.

"We're not a team that's going to shove it down your throat into the post. That's not us. It's a quick turnaround, but hopefully he puts them in the basket Friday."

Clemson also has stepped up its defensive efforts recently and the Tigers rank second in the league in scoring defense, allowing 62.6 points per game. But offense is typically the Tigers' undoing -- they rank last in the ACC in scoring (65.1) and field-goal percentage (.419).

Clemson should be well rested, however. Brownell's team, which is 8-1 at home this season, hasn't played since last Saturday.

"The part of taking a break that's good for some of our heavy-minute guys is they need a couple of days to just relax," Brownell said. "Our guys needed to get away and decompress, physically recharge."

But challenges loom for both teams. After Georgia Tech, Clemson faces consecutive road games at Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Wake Forest while the game at Clemson will be Georgia Tech's first of three games in six days.

--Field Level Media