Things got dicey at the end, but Virginia Tech led from start to finish and beat Clemson 67-65 in Cassell Coliseum on Saturday. The Hokies are now 13-10 overall and 2-6 in ACC play. The Tigers dropped to 11-11 and 3-5.
Tech led by as many as 17 points in the first half and 14 points in the second half before Clemson roared back to make the game close. Freshman wing K.C. McDaniels went to the free throw line with 3.3 seconds remaining in the game, with his team down by two points, and promptly missed two free throws. The ball rolled free on the baseline to senior wing Tanner Smith, who missed a wide open mid-range jumper that would have tied the game. Robert Brown rebounded for the Hokies, who won for just the second time in 2012.
Freshman forward Dorian Finney-Smith had been struggling coming into Saturday’s game, missing his last 25 field goal attempts. The most important play of the game came on the first play of the game, when Jarell Eddie hit Finney-Smith on a backdoor cut to make the score 2-0. That got Finney-Smith’s confidence up, and he went on to score 12 points and grab eight rebounds in 35 minutes. He was 5-of-8 from the field and 2-of-3 from three-point range.
Freshman point guard Marquis Rankin also started the game for the Hokies. He scored a career-high eight points, all in the first half, and came up with a number of energy plays for the Hokies. Seth Greenberg admitted post game that he probably should have played Rankin more in the second half, but a good game against Clemson has to be a confidence boost for Tech’s young freshman guard who missed the entire preseason with a knee injury.
Jarell Eddie led the Hokies with 15 points, and he also had six rebounds and three assists. Erick Green chipped in with 10 points, while Cadarian Raines came up big with eight points and four rebounds off the bench.
Tech had 12 assists to just nine turnovers, while Clemson had nine assists and 10 turnovers. The Hokies led this one by double digits almost the entire game, and though they didn’t close as strongly as they would have liked, it’s a step in the right direction.
The Hokies get most of the week off before returning to action at Miami on Thursday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 9pm, and the game will be televised by ESPN2.