Despite a 25-point outing from Aamir Simms, a banner night from the foul line and fiery hot three-point shooting, Clemson (13-5, 7-5) still found itself on the verge of losing to Georgia Tech for a fourth consecutive time. With the Yellow Jackets up a point in the final seconds, senior guard Jose Alvarado toed the foul line, poised to build on the advantage. Alvarado, an 88% free throw shooter, shockingly missed both foul shots to set the stage for Nick Honor’s heroics. Honor, working with less than eight seconds on the game clock, danced around Simms’ screen to free himself for a last-second shot. The 3-pointer looked long out of his hand but banked home to lift the Tigers to a 74-72 victory at Littlejohn Coliseum, Friday night.
It was a well earned win as Clemson finished 9 of 18 from behind the arc and 17 of 19 from the foul line. The Tigers hit six of their last eight shots down the stretch, including the game-winner. It is Honor’s bank shot that will serve as the lasting memory, but Simms’ contributions should not be quickly forgotten. Clemson’s senior forward tied a career high with 25 points on 9 of 16 shooting. He even regained his form from the perimeter, knocking down 3 of 4 from the 3-point line. After shooting 40% from long distance as a junior, Simms had knocked down just 30% of his treys this season.
Honor finished with a dozen points behind a tidy 5 of 7 shooting performance. Honor’s game-winner elevated his 3-point percentage to a team-high 42%.
Brad Brownell acknowledged there was nothing special about the game’s final play, “That was just a high-middle ball screen ….. We work on these situations about once a week. I tell you guys all the time, that’s what happens in these situations. Kids make plays and Nick Honor made a play.”
Clemson usually relies on its defense to carry it in close games, but Brownell noted, “Our guys executed down the stretch and our offense won us this game.”
The Tigers have won three in a row, all at Littlejohn Coliseum, following their poor performance in Durham. Clemson, 8-1 in its own building, will now have to embark on its longest road trip of the conference season. The next three games are all away from home, beginning with Notre Dame, Wednesday.