The Clemson Tigers played stifling defense to pick up their second-straight ACC win Sunday afternoon, topping Wake Forest 64-37 at Littlejohn Coliseum.
The Tigers held the Demon Deacons to an abysmal 24% shooting from the field and an even worse 14% from beyond the arc. The 37 points allowed are the fewest in ACC play during Brad Brownell’s coaching tenure.
They even managed to hold Wake Forest’s leading scorer Brandon Childress to 0-11 with zero points in 32 minutes of play. This stout defensive effort by the Tigers led to 16 forced turnovers, and 20 points off those turnovers.
From the opening moments of the game Clemson was in control, with Elijah Thomas scoring the game’s first points and the Tigers never giving up their lead. Thomas had another double-double in the win, scoring 23 on an efficient 10-11 from the field to go along with 10 boards. Still, that’s not even the most impressive part of his day; Thomas tallied a career-high seven (!!!) blocks in the game.
Thomas’ interior domination was indicative of the Tigers as a whole. Clemson was in control inside the painted area for pretty much the whole game. They more than doubled Wake’s points in the paint, 34 to 16, and held Wake to below 50% shooting near the basket.
This win played out similarly to their other two ACC wins in that Clemson was able to jump out early and take control of the ballgame. Unlike their other ACC wins, Clemson was able to win with tough defense and overcome bad games from both Marcquise Reed and Shelton Mitchell. The duo that normally drives Clemson’s offense combined for 15 points, six assists and four turnovers.
In the end, this can looked at as a big win over an inferior opponent. All five of Clemson’s starters were +18 or better, and that’s what should have happened. Good win, but the next step for this team will be putting together a complete performance by having Reed, Mitchell and Thomas all firing on the same night. If that happens, look out because it could be scary.