It was fun while it lasted. Clemson had enjoyed an unprecedented run for the program by opening ACC play with seven straight wins. But no one runs the table in the ACC these days. The last to do it was Duke which went 16-0 in the 1998-99 season. Tuesday night in Winston-Salem, a very good Wake Forest team hit the Tigers early and kept control most of the way in an 87-77 victory.
The Demon Deacons built a ten-point halftime lead 48-38 with Tyree Appleby scoring 14 of his game high 24 points in the opening twenty minutes. The 46 points were the most Clemson had allowed in any half this season.
Appleby scored four points in the first two minutes of the second half as the lead ballooned to 15 points. With Hunter Tyson getting hot, the Tigers were able to get back to within six point at 65-59 with 9:34 to play. But the Deacons scored the next seven points for a 72-59 lead.
Again, Clemson fought back and cut the deficit to six at 77-71 with 2:07 to play, but a 7-2 run by the Demon Deacons killed any hopes of a complete Tiger comeback.
Clemson played without point guard Chase Hunter, out with a foot injury suffered in the Duke game, and shooting guard Alex Hemenway, who also is dealing with a foot issue, so Brad Brownell had to go deep in his bench. Nine players saw at least 10 minutes of floor time with Josh Beadle getting his first start in place of Hunter.
PJ Hall led the Tigers with 22 points. He also had nine rebounds. Tyson recorded another double-double with 19 points and 14 rebounds.
Fouls were a big factor in the game. Clemson was whistled for 26 fouls, and Beadle fouled out. The Deacons shot 33 free throws and fortunately for the Tigers only made 22 or they would have closed the game out a lot earlier. Clemson was 13-14 from the line off of 18 Wake Forest fouls.
The Tigers also hurt themselves with nine second half turnovers the Demon Deacons converted into 12 points. Conversely, Wake had one second half turnover.
Clemson is now 15-4 overall and 7-1 in the ACC and will host Virginia Tech Saturday. Wake Forest is 14-5 and 6-2, and the Deacons avenged a December loss at Littlejohn. They will host Virginia on Saturday.