ATLANTA - Georgia Tech is hoping to pull off a Georgia-like run through the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
One down, three to go.
Lewis Clinch set a career high with 32 points and the last-place Yellow Jackets pulled off the first upset of the ACC tournament, beating No. 17 Clemson 86-81 in the opening round Thursday.
Clinch made five 3-pointers to carry the Yellow Jackets (12-18), who went 2-14 in the ACC during the regular season - including a pair of losses to the Tigers. He capped his performance with a pair of clinching free throws, eclipsing his career high of 30 points against Miami just eight days earlier.
'I was open,' Clinch said. 'If I have open looks, I'm supposed to knock them down.'
After equaling the most ACC losses in school history during the regular season, Georgia Tech has a chance to match its win total in just two days. The Yellow Jackets advanced to face No. 22 Florida State in the quarterfinals today.
'We're clicking,' backup center Alade Aminu said. 'We're ready for them.'
Actually, the outcome wasn't that much of a surprise. For the third time in four years, the 12th-seeded team in the tournament opened with an upset of the No. 5 seed. And Clemson failed again to win the most prestigious of league tournaments on its 56th try - the only original member of the ACC lacking a championship.
Gani Lawal added 20 points and 14 rebounds for the Yellow Jackets, who are well aware of what state rival Georgia did at last year's Southeastern Conference tournament in Atlanta.
The last-place Bulldogs won four straight games to earn an NCAA bid in a tournament interrupted by a devastating tornado that struck the Georgia Dome. The final two days of the tournament were shifted to Georgia Tech's campus arena, where the Bulldogs wrapped up their improbable championship.
Clemson (23-8) made it to the ACC title game a year ago before losing to North Carolina, but they were one-and-done at the Dome and will head to the NCAAs mired in a major slump. The Tigers have lost four of their last five, which will hardly impress the seeding committee.
'We need to step up and we need to play together,' sophomore Terrence Oglesby said. 'If we don't decide to do that, then it's going to be a struggle.'
Trevor Booker paced Clemson with 17 points. Five other Tigers were in double figures, including Oglesby with 11, but it wasn't enough to handle the inside-outside attack of Lawal and Clinch.