ATLANTA — Clemson really needed a win like this.
After an excruciating loss to N.C. State last weekend, the Tigers pulled out a close one against Georgia Tech. K.J. McDaniels scored 14 points and Milton Jennings blocked a potential tying 3-pointer at the buzzer to preserve a 56-53 victory Thursday night.
"We needed that win a lot for our psyche," coach Brad Brownell said.
The Tigers (13-11, 5-7 Atlantic Coast Conference) extended their domination of the Yellow Jackets (13-10, 3-8), sweeping the season series and winning their seventh in a row overall.
It wasn't easy.
Georgia Tech rallied from a 12-point deficit in the second half and had a couple of chances to force overtime. Chris Bolden missed badly on a drive with about 10 seconds to go, appearing to get caught between shooting and passing, the ball floating up nowhere close to the rim. But the Yellow Jackets got another chance after Jennings made one of two free throws.
Mfon Udofia took off down the court, looking to get off a 3, and he appeared to have an open look when Daniel Miller delivered a pick to free up his teammate. But Jennings came up from behind to strip it away, and the Tigers celebrated.
The play was especially sweet for Jennings.
Last Sunday, the senior forward missed the front end of a 1-and-1 that could've clinched it for the Tigers. Instead, he left open the door for the Wolfpack to pull out a 58-57 win on Scott Wood's 3-pointer with a second remaining.
"I'm really happy for Milton, making a free throw down the stretch and getting the big block," Brownell said. "He made the big plays to help us win."
While everyone else will likely remember the block on Udofia, Jennings was proud of making the free throw that forced the Yellow Jackets to go for a shot beyond the arc.