Clemson has had more than its share of drama this season, mostly on the losing side. But there was little drama in Tuesday night’s 95-83 win over Wake Forest at Littlejohn Coliseum, though the Demon Deacons did get a 21 point deficit down to 6 with 1:17 to play. The Tigers were able to hold it together to sweep the series with the Deacons for the second straight season.
The win was the 25th on Valentine’s Day for the Tigers, their most successful date on the calendar. And they did it with Teddy Valentine officiating.
Here’s why the Tigers won:
Offense, offense, offense
For the most part, the Tigers played a very sharp offensive game matching their season’s high in points. They shot well, including hitting ten three pointers, and the ball moved. They had 12 assists on their 29 baskets. It was a balanced offensive night with four in double figures with Marcquese Reed leading the way with 21 off the bench. And the Tigers hit their free throws down the stretch going 10-10. They finished 27-35 for the game. Even seldom used center Legend Robertin got into the act with a pair of dunks.
Defense was good enough
Building that 21 point lead gave the Tigers some cushion on the defensive side, and they needed it in the second half. Wake was sensational on offense over the final 20 minutes shooting 58.8%, but the Tigers got just enough stops to keep the Demon Deacons at arms length. Clemson forced 18 turnovers, high mark for the Deacons in ACC play this season. But worth mentioning was the performance of Wake’s John Collins. He was 12-14 from the floor, 5-5 from the line for 27 points, and he grabbed 10 boards.
Brad Brownell’s opening comments on the victory
They just wanted it
Brad Brownell, after seeing his team lose three in a row, was highly energized on the sideline and his players played like his job, and theirs’, depended on a win. Of course, that’s not the case, but the interest level in the basketball season by the Clemson faithful is down right now, evidenced by the half empty arena Tuesday night. Brownell has only one NCAA Tournament appearance to his credit at Clemson and this team was expected to be his second. It might still, and this win over Wake Forest keeps that hope alive. The Tigers are now 14-11 and 4-9 in the ACC but face road games to Miami and Virginia Tech in their next two outings.
Brownell on NCAA Tournament hopes
One injury note for the Tigers. Brownell said Shelton Mitchell tweaked his knee during the game, the same one he had scoped in the pre-season. He said he does have some concern about it and it is something they’ll have to keep an eye on.