ATLANTA (AP) — Josh Pastner hasn't giving up on his dream of Georgia Tech claiming its first ACC winning record in 16 years.
Thanks to the leadership of guards Jose Alvarado and Michael Devoe, the Yellow Jackets still have a chance to realize that goal.
Alvarado played through an injury scare to score 19 points and Georgia Tech overcame Aamir Simms' 23 points to beat Clemson 68-59 on Tuesday night.
Devoe had 14 points and eight assists while leading the perimeter defense which shut down Clemson's 3-point shooting attack.
Georgia Tech (14-14, 8-9) earned its fifth straight home win, including four in ACC games. The Yellow Jackets play their next two games at home against Miami and Pittsburgh before closing the regular season at Clemson.
Georgia Tech has not finished better than .500 in conference games since the 2003-04 season, when it was 9-7 in the ACC and advanced to the NCAA championship game under coach Paul Hewitt.
“We know what we're capable of,” Alvarado said. “I think we should have won more games in the ACC, but it's OK. We're going to keep learning from the games we have.”
The Yellow Jackets' best ACC finish in Pastner's first three years was 8-10 in his 2016-17 debut season as coach.
“We're the best we've been since I've been here and we're moving forward,” Pastner said.
Georgia Tech's last NCAA Tournament appearance came in 2005. Pastner said “we're moving in the right direction” to end that drought.
Alvarado played most of the game with a wrap on his left arm. He fell on the arm late in the first half and had ice on the elbow after the game.
“It's fine,” Alvarado said. “I just think it was more of me being scared of the fall, but I'm fine.”
Alvarado helped the Yellow Jackets stretch their lead to double figures for the first time. Georgia Tech led only 49-46 before back-to-back baskets by the junior guard, including a 3-pointer. Bubba Parham's layup with 6:33 remaining extended the lead to 10 points at 56-46.
Clemson (14-13, 8-9) had its three-game winning streak snapped. The Tigers committed 16 turnovers, including six by Simms.
“We've had too many turnovers for the last three out of four games, and it finally bit us today,” said coach Brad Brownell.
Georgia Tech stretched its lead to 13 points at 61-48. Clemson cut the lead to 66-59 on Hunter Tyson's basket with 1:11 remaining. Following a missed 3-pointer by Simms, the Yellow Jackets worked on the clock before Alvarado's jumper provided the final margin.
After scoring a career-high 33 points with 10 rebounds in Saturday's 79-72 loss at Syracuse, Georgia Tech's Moses Wright had 10 points — all in the second half. He missed each of his five shots before halftime but sank a jumper to open the second half.
Clemson: The Tigers were hurt by their lack of scoring balance. Simms finished two points away from matching his career high of 25 against Duke on Jan. 14. He had too little help, especially in the first half when he had 16 of the team's 29 points. He made 7 of 10 shots from the field in the half while his teammates combined to make only 6 of 17. Al-Amir Dawes and Hunter Tyson each scored 10 points as Clemson's only other scorers in double figures.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets kept both of their biggest starters active for the full game for a change. Senior forward James Banks III was called for only two fouls, ending his streak of fouling out in four straight games. Overall, Banks has fouled out of seven games and has finished with four fouls in 10 games this season. Banks had eight rebounds as Georgia Tech claimed a 35-31 advantage on the boards.
The Tigers, one of the ACC's most active 3-point shooting teams, couldn't find their long-range touch. Clemson made only 2 of 20 3-pointers.
Clemson returns home to play Florida State on Saturday.
Georgia Tech continues its three-game homestand when it plays Miami on Saturday night. The Yellow Jackets' only remaining road game is at Clemson on March 6 to close the regular season.
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