A second look at Georgia Tech-Clemson

Credit: Richard Shiro

Credit: Richard Shiro

More from Georgia Tech's loss at No. 15 Clemson on Saturday. To read the "Five observations" story published Saturday, read here.

1. On the officiating: The final foul numbers from Georgia Tech's loss to No. 15 Clemson Saturday speak, to say the least, a considerable discrepancy. Tech was called for 25 fouls and Clemson 16. The Tigers shot 30 free throws (making 24). The Yellow Jackets took 12 (making 10).

Three of Tech’s fouls and six of Clemson’s free throws took place in the final 30 seconds, when the Jackets were intentionally fouling to try to extend the game. Regardless, 22-16 and 24-12 are pretty big gaps. Coach Josh Pastner, not one to comment negatively on officiating, raised his objections to two particular fouls on guard Josh Okogie. For a team that is dying for a win, it was a frustrating way to go down yet again.

“Some of the calls they were calling, obviously, not everything’s going to go your way,” said Okogie, who fouled out for the third time this season. “So I just had to live with it and find a way to help my team when I got back in the game.”

It was not a well-called game. Asked Monday for his assessment on the officiating, having had a chance to look at the game video, Pastner declined comment.

Toward the end, the crew of Les Jones, Jeffrey Anderson and Mike Stuart seemed to start calling contact a lot more closely, and Clemson did a better job of creating contact. The Jackets took a number of jump shots (and missed) while the Tigers benefited from driving hard to the basket. Twice in the late minutes, they had inside positions on contested balls that got guards Tadric Jackson and Brandon Alston called for fouls.

That aside, there were a number of questionable calls and non-calls. Forward Moses Wright was called for a foul trying to tie up the ball, as was Okogie earlier in the game. Forward Evan Cole appeared to be pushed under the basket going for a rebound and nothing was called.

It didn’t all go against Tech. The Littlejohn Coliseum crowd wanted a call when Clemson center Mark Donnal had contact with center Ben Lammers on a reverse and on the ensuing possession Donnal was called for apparently latching onto Lammers (not very effectively) as he slipped to the basket.

Further, Clemson center Elijah Thomas was called for an illegal screen at 8:25 and Lammers drew a charge on him at the 6:40 mark. Those are all calls that could have gone Clemson’s way, either with a whistle or a non-call, but all went against the Tigers.

Would Tech have won with a better called game? Maybe, though, hardly for certain. But, another aggravation in a season full of them? Clearly.

“When I’m posting up, sure, I might be grabbing the guy a little bit, he might be grabbing me, but that’s what everybody does,” Lammers said. “When they call the little ticky-tack stuff, it takes the whole game out of its rhythm.”

Or, as Pastner put it, “It was a tough game to lose.”

Lammers is not much of an excuse maker, but acknowledged that the heaviness of the officiating took a toll, albeit one that perhaps a team not on a six-game losing streak might have had a little more fortitude to overcome.

“There were a few plays where maybe Moses or someone tries to contest a shot – again, maybe I’m not saying it’s not a foul – but stuff that they haven’t called in the past, maybe, so it’s like we’re thinking, OK, he’s going to get this block and we can kind of change momentum, but then they call a foul, Clemson gets time to reorganize and then continue their run.”

2. Not so good when falling behind: Tech is 0-10 in ACC play this season when it has fallen behind by 10 or more points. It is 4-3 when it has gained a double-digit lead on its opponent. It led Clemson in both games by double digits – 12 in the first half of the first game and 11 in the second half of the second – and lost both.

Not that the Jackets have many options to pick from with four league wins, but the largest deficit they’ve overcome in a win was eight points against Miami. They did recover from a 10-point deficit against Clemson on Saturday to take the lead before ultimately falling.

3. Long minutes for Jackson: Jackson played the first 40-minute game of his career against Clemson, logging the minutes mostly at the point, a more tiring position than the shooting guard position he usually plays. While Jackson is a hot-and-cold player, perhaps it was not a surprise that he was 1-for-10 in the second half for three points after scoring 10 on 3-for-6 shooting (2-for-3 from 3-point range) in the first half. He missed a number of floaters and layups that he's typically proficient at making.

“Absolutely,” Pastner said when asked if he thought fatigue was a factor in Jackson’s play. “But I had no other options.”

Pastner said he called a timeout at something of an unusual juncture – at the 8:02 mark of the second half with Clemson free throws upcoming, when the next whistle would have prompted a TV timeout, “because Tadric was exhausted and we weren’t scoring.”

4. Stat sheet stuffer: Okogie had 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Going back to the 2010-11 season, it was just the third time that a Tech player has hit those numbers in a game, according to sports-reference.com. The other two were by Iman Shumpert in January 2011.