CLEMSON, S.C. — Andre Young wanted his shooting slump to end and see Clemson pull out a close victory. The Tigers senior got both against Georgia Tech on Saturday.
Young had career highs with 29 points and seven 3-pointers and Clemson held off a late Yellow Jackets rally for a 64-62 victory.
"I'm happy for both," Young said. "That slump was definitely frustrating. We got a lot of losses and I definitely felt responsible for some of that. At the same time, it's finally great to see our team gut out a tough game that really came down to one possession."
It didn't look that way when Young connected his final 3-pointer with 3:44 left that put the Tigers (10-9, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) ahead 56-40. That's when Glen Rice Jr. and the Yellow Jackets nearly hung another late loss on Clemson, which had lost its last three ACC games by a combined 12 points.
Rice scored 15 of his 19 points over the next five minutes to bring Georgia Tech within striking distance. When Jason Morris hit a three from the corner with 23.5 seconds left, the Yellow Jackets trailed 62-59 in front of a nervous crowd at Littlejohn Coliseum.
Young, though, stepped up once more, the senior guard making two foul shots to stretch the lead to five points. Mfon Udofia took struck for one final 3-pointer for Georgia Tech that created the final margin.
Young took the inbounds pass with 1.4 seconds left and covered the ball up before he could be fouled and run out the time on Clemson's fourth straight win over Georgia Tech (8-11, 1-4).
"It was crazy. We were up by like 12 and all of sudden we were up a couple of points," Young said. "But we did a good job at the end making a couple of free throws."
That hadn't happened for the Tigers or Young in recent games. Clemson lost 59-57 at Boston College, 73-66 to Duke and 76-73 at Miami, losses that came because of poor execution down the stretch. Young had only 32 points on 13 of 38 shooting and four 3-pointers in those defeats.
Clemson coach Brad Brownell was just as pleased with Young's performance. "He's been fighting it a little bit," Brownell said.
Young, a senior, surpassed his previous high of 22 points, an accomplishment that last took place in Clemson's NCAA tournament loss to West Virginia last March. For most of this one, it looked like it was Young's shooting that would carry the day.
Young finished 9 of 12 from the field, including 7 of 9 from beyond the arc. No one else on Clemson reached double figures in scoring.
Rice added eight rebounds while Udofia had 10 points.
"We wanted the ball in Glen Rice's hands in those last two minutes," first-year Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory said. Clemson's defense was strong against Georgia Tech's point guards, Gregory said, so he chose Rice as the playmaker down the stretch.
"It helped us out quite a bit," Gregory said.
Clemson and Georgia Tech both entered with ACC losing streaks and, as one-win teams, were only ahead of winless Virginia Tech in the 12-team league.
Tigers coach Brownell shook up his starters, giving reserves Bryan Narcisse and Catalin Baciu spots in the opening lineup and sitting leading rebounder Devin Booker for the first time this season.
Neither team, however, could get in synch early on. The Yellow Jackets and Tigers were a combined 4-of-18 shooting and the game languished. Twice Brownell swapped out all five players on the floor.
Things weren't much better for Georgia Tech. Its top two scorers, Rice Jr. and Udofia, picked up two fouls halfway through the period and spend significant time on the bench.
Clemson was ahead 13-10 with 5:56 left in the opening half when the lights went dark at Littlejohn Coliseum. Officials blamed a power surge that left part of campus without electricity.
The delay lasted 22 minutes. When the lights finally came back on, so did Clemson's shooting touch, powered by Young.
The Tigers senior guard had made one 3-pointer and had trouble finding open shots against the Yellow Jackets before the delay. After, Young was practically unstoppable.
He made three consecutive 3-pointers, then drove the lane for a basket and got fouled for a three-point play. Young finished off the charge with his fifth three, tying his career best mark for outside goals.
Young's last long-range shot of the half put the Tigers ahead 28-15.
The Yellow Jackets finished with just six baskets and 17 turnovers in the half. Rice and Udofia were a combined 1 of 4 for 5 points.
It looked like more of the same for Georgia Tech in the second half until the frantic charge at the end. Brownell was grateful the Tigers hung on. "They had some shots go in at the end to make it scary, but I thought our guys played really well," he said.