Wake Forest notched their second ranked win of the season on Tuesday night, downing the No. 19 Clemson Tigers 87-77 inside the friendly confines of Joel Coliseum. The Deacs are now 10-0 at home and have won six of their last seven contests. Wake Forest led for 38:52 of gameplay and had four starters reach double figures. It was a gritty, tough performance that saw Wake turn the ball over just six times and attempt 33 free throws.
“It was a hard fought game,” Wake Forest head coach Steve Forbes said. “Clemson came in here and battled. I knew they would. We got to the line a lot tonight. We put a lot of pressure off the bounce against one of the best defenses in the ACC and in the country. We didn’t foul and we made some physical plays at the rim. A great effort for 40 minutes, a heck of a game and a great crowd for a night game.”
Clemson played from behind essentially the entire game — the only lead they held was 2-0 after they opened the game’s scoring right after tipoff. After that, the Tigers started slow and were unable to recover the rest of the way.
“They just played with very good pace,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said of Wake Forest’s performance. “I thought our guys were a little bit behind the play, especially in the first half. It took us a while to get into the game. We regrouped in the second half, we were a little better. We just couldn’t quite get enough things done to win the game. Wake played better than us and beat us.”
For Wake Forest, Tyree Appleby and Damari Monsanto put forth great efforts, combining for 41 points on 12/24 shooting. Cam Hildreth had a double-double (17 points, 10 rebs) and drilled a huge three in the final minutes to help the Deacs ice the game. Andrew Carr retained his ACC Player of the Week form, finishing with 18 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and three blocks while matched up against star Clemson bigs Hunter Tyson and PJ Hall.
“Obviously, those two are great players and have been playing really well,” Carr said. “They’re a lot to handle. They were a big part of the scouting report coming into the game. For us, offensively, you have to make them work on that end to make it a little more difficult for them. When they come down and play offense, try and tire them out a little bit. That was a big thing, trying to make them work on defense as well.”
Tuesday night’s game was a complete 180 from the last time the Deacs faced Clemson on Dec. 2. In that game, Wake Forest fell apart in the second half and was blown out by 20. The 10-point wire-to-wire effort is representative of how the team has grown throughout the season.
“We couldn’t have won this game in November, December,” Forbes said. “I thought last time, we just got sped up. We took 14 bad shots against them last time. I don’t think we had a bunch tonight. I think we went through a little bit, in early November, just trying to survive with the lead. Now we seem to understand that we have to put the pedal to the metal.”
With the victory, Wake Forest advances to 6-2 in the ACC and a tie for second in the league. The Deacs gained another resume-boosting win over a ranked opponent that could bode well for them down the line as the postseason approaches. However, the only thing Steve Forbes and his team are thinking about is how to attack the next game on the schedule.
“What I can control is just keep winning,” Forbes said. “Win the right games and it’ll all work out. I don’t understand metrics and I’m a head coach in the ACC. So I just don’t look at it, because last year at this time, everyone had us deep in the tournament. We just have to keep rolling the ones in front of us.”
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