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Rivers leads comeback as Clemson upends Virginia Tech

Jan 30, 2009 - 6:11 AM BLACKSBURG, Virginia (Ticker) -- Malcolm Delaney made shots from all over the court. Yet, K.C. Rivers and Clemson still found a way to get a huge road win in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Rivers scored 29 points and Trevor Booker added 21 and 13 rebounds as No. 11 Clemson overcame a big second-half deficit to post an 86-82 victory over Virginia Tech on Thursday.

A senior swingman, Rivers connected on 7-of-10 shots from the arc as Clemson (18-2, 4-2 ACC) made 14-of-25 3-pointers as a team.

"He was huge, maybe one of the best performances in the league this year," Clemson coach Oliver Purnell told the State. "We wanted that winning feeling on the road again."

Delaney drilled six 3-pointers - including one from beyond half court - en route to a career-high 37 points to lead Virginia Tech, which led by as much as 63-48 with 16:40 to play before Clemson roared back.

Rivers scored six straight points and Demontez Stitt made the go-ahead 3-pointer as Clemson scored 18 straight points to take a 66-63 advantage with 10:24 remaining.

"We just lost our composure in the second half," Delaney said. "We had the game in our hands the whole game. We went away from what was working. They went on that run in the second half and we just stopped running.

"We knew they were going to make a run. But we didn't contest shots and they hit open shots. We let Rivers get hot and that killed us. I think we kind of folded and beat ourselves."

The Tigers pushed the lead up to six but Jeff Allen capped a 10-2 run with a breakaway dunk to give the Hokies a 76-74 edge with 4:44 left to play.

Delaney's sixth 3-pointer put Virginia Tech on top, 79-76, but Clemson again responded and David Potter's only two baskets of the game proved to be the difference.

Potter tied the score on a layup with just over two minutes to play and gave the Tigers the lead for good at 83-80 on a 3-pointer with 1:23 left.

After Virginia Tech scored, Rivers made a long jumper to push the Clemson lead to 85-82 with 51 seconds remaining and the Hokies went 0-for-3 from the arc down the stretch. A.D. Vassallo rushed a 3-pointer from the right wing with 22 seconds to go and Potter made one of two free throws to seal the victory.

"You've got to give Rivers credit," Hokies coach Seth Greenberg said. "He made big, big-time shots. He came into the game struggling and he comes out and has a huge game.

"You've got to finish (games) and we'd been finishing well the last couple of weeks. You've also got to get stops. It's all about getting stops. If you get stops, you score. If you don't get stops, it's hard to score."

Allen had 13 points and nine rebounds for Virginia Tech, which shot over 60 percent (20-of-33) from the floor in the first half.

Delaney scored 22 of his points in the first half and capped off his sizzling session with a buzzer-beater from beyond the half-court line to give the Hokies a 53-44 advantage at the break. The sophomore shot 11-of-17 from the floor overall and made 9-of-10 from the foul line.

"We did a lot of good things," Greenberg said. "They just did a few more."