CLEMSON, S.C. — The Virginia Tech men’s basketball team lost another game Sunday.
One guess as to what its opponent did well.
Clemson sank 10 3-pointers in a 77-70 victory over the Hokies at Littlejohn Coliseum.
The Tigers (11-8, 3-4 ACC) entered the game ranked last in the conference with an average of just five 3-pointers per game. But they had that many in the first half Sunday.
It was “not getting out on the shooters,” said Tech point guard Erick Green, who had 25 points and five assists. “You don’t get out on the shooters — like [the] coach said in the scouting report, [which] once again we didn’t follow — and they hit 3s.
“They had a lot of wide-open 3s. … When you give people good looks, anyone in college basketball in Division I is going to shoot that and make it.”
It was the seventh time this season that Tech (11-8, 2-4) surrendered at least 10 3-pointers. Tech has allowed at least 10 3-pointers in six of its eight defeats.
Why is defending the 3-pointer such a problem for the Hokies this season?
“I have no idea,” Green said. “Before every game, it feels like every team can’t really shoot the ball that well. Then they play us, they shoot the ball really well. I don’t get it.”
“They got the same looks against other teams and they haven’t knocked those shots down,” coach James Johnson said. “It seems like it’s, ‘Get well against the Hokies.’ ”
Clemson entered the game ranked 10th in the ACC in 3-point field-goal percentage but was 10 of 21 from 3-point territory against the Hokies’ zone defense.
“We moved the ball pretty good, so we got a lot of open looks,” said Clemson guard Damarcus Harrison, who had three 3-pointers and 19 points. “It was all in rhythm and we knocked them down.”
Clemson won even though its best player, center Devin Booker, was 0 of 3 from the field against Tech’s zone.
Johnson said he didn’t think the Hokies could guard Clemson’s post players, so he opted for zone to force the Tigers to “do something that they can’t do” — shoot from the outside.
But this time, the Tigers were successful from the perimeter. K.J. McDaniels had 17 points and a career-best five 3-pointers.
“When they pack it back as much as they do, there’s going to be some shots. They’re kind of daring you to shoot,” Tigers coach Brad Brownell said. “Our guys are better shooters on those kind of rhythm shots. Those are not the hardest shots.
“Now, it takes away some of your other things. It certainly takes away some of Booker’s touches.”
Clemson scored more than 66 points for the first time in ACC play this season. Clemson entered the game ranked 11th in the ACC in scoring offense (63.6 ppg), but the Hokies entered the game ranked last in the ACC in scoring defense (74.1 ppg).
Tigers forward Milton Jennings had 28 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks. He was 16 of 18 from the free-throw line, the most free throws made by a Tiger since 1969.
For the third straight game, the Hokies missed at least eight free throws. Tech was 23 of 32 from the free-throw line.
Tech’s Marquis Rankin, who started in place of struggling guard Robert Brown, made one of two free throws to tie the score at 60 with 3:21 to go.
“You’ve got to make that [second] free throw,” Johnson said.
Jennings made one of two free throws to give Clemson the lead for good at 61-60. Harrison buried a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 64-60.
C.J. Barksdale scored to cut the lead to 64-62, but Jennings answered with a jumper. After a block by McDaniels, Jennings made two free throws for a 68-62 cushion with 1:26 to go.
The Tigers blocked nine shots. The Hokies shot a season-low 35 percent from the field.
“They [were] a very good interior-defense team,” said Tech’s Jarell Eddie, who had 19 points.
Green missed his first four shots from the field in the second half. His three baskets in the second half came in the final 40 seconds.
“In the second half, I didn’t make enough plays,” said Green, who had 11 second-half points.
“Two and three guys are staying with him and he’s expending a lot of energy,” Johnson said. “It took a little bit of a toll.”
Brown’s shooting woes continued. He was 4 of 13 from the field.
Clemson scored the first 12 points of the game.
Down 29-20, Tech went on an 11-2 run to tie the score at 31 with 1:52 left in the first half. Green had seven points in the run.