The Clemson Tigers (11-10, 5-6 ACC) fell to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (10-11, 3-8 ACC) Saturday night in a low scoring, ugly game. The Tigers were never able to get in a groove from the field and ended up shooting just 30`% from the field and 19% from 3-point range. Aamir Simms was the leading scorer for the Tigers on the night, with an inefficient 14 points on 6-16 shooting from the field. The game was close throughout the first half with 5 ties and 8 lead changes while both teams struggled from the field and played suffocating defense. The defenses forced difficult shots throughout the half and makes came few and far between. Brandon Childress and Chaundee Brown, in his return from a month long leg injury, led the Demon Deacons and lifted Wake Forest to a three point advantage at half time.
The tide turned quickly once the second half began as the Deacs jumped all over the Tigers with a 14-0 run to start the half. The Demon Deacons found their groove early in the second period and never looked back. Clemson never recovered. The Tigers made a few small runs to bring the game within striking distance, but could never close the gap created by the early run.
Both teams got off to very slow starts in Saturday night’s contest, with neither team getting points on the board until nearly three and a half minutes into the game. The Tigers struggled against Wake Forest’s 1-2-2 zone and were unable to replicate the success they had attacking the middle of the court like they did on Tuesday against Syracuse. Wake was able to extend the zone and bother the guards for Clemson, causing many sloppy passes at the top of the key and forcing 15 turnovers for the game. Clemson’s shooting really struggled against the zone as well. Aamir Simms was the only Tiger to hit a 3-pointer in the first half, making his only attempt and ending the half with 10 points on 4-9 shooting from the field. The rest of the Clemson Tigers went a combined 0-10 from 3-point range. Wake wasn’t much better, but the big men for the Demon Deacons made enough shots inside while the guards hit some shots near the half to help Wake Forest enter the half with a three point lead.
The Demon Deacons began the second half with a 14-0 run over the first four minutes of the half, fueled entirely by their senior guard, Andrien White. White accounted for 11 of the 14 points in the run and assisted on the other 3-pointer. From that point on, the lead hovered around 10 to 15 points, with the Tigers getting as close as eight points at 39-31 with nine minutes to play. The lead ballooned again from there and ended with a final score of 56-44. The Tigers failed to get inside in the second half and ended the game with just 6 free throw attempts.
The Tigers move on to their next game on Wednesday by heading to Charlottesville to take on the University of Virginia. WIth 9 games remaining in ACC play, the Tigers will need to find ways to win against the middle of the ACC. Their games against Virginia, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh Boston College, Virginia Tech and 2 against Georgia Tech are all winnable with solid performances. As we’ve seen throughout the season, these Tigers are capable of fantastic performances (Duke, @UNC) and capable of laying eggs like they did tonight against Wake. This team is unlikely to make the NCAA tournament, but with a strong performance throughout the rest of ACC play, they stand a semi-realistic chance of making the NIT.
Wake Forest travels to play the Louisville Cardinals on Wednesday. They find themselves at the bottom of the ACC standings at 3-8, with a tough remaining schedule left to play.