CLEMSON 61 WAKE FOREST 53
By JEFFREY COLLINS
CLEMSON — K.J. McDaniels scored 15 points and had 12 rebounds to lead Clemson to a 61-53 win over Wake Forest on Saturday.
The Tigers (13-4, 4-1 Atlantic Coast) are off to their best start in the ACC since winning their first five league games in 1997–the last time Clemson went to the Sweet 16.
The Tigers again relied on their nation-leading defense. They’ve held every ACC opponent to 60 points or under this year. Wake Forest (12-6, 2-3) shot just 36.2 percent (21-of-58), matching Clemson’s field goal defense for the season exactly. The Tigers also came into the game allowing just 53.6 points a game.
The Tigers blocked 10 shots and hit 18 of 21 free throws. They have already matched last year’s number of victories at 13 and are in second place in the ACC after being predicted to finish 14th. But things get tougher quickly. Clemson plays five of its next six games on the road. First up is No. 22 Pittsburgh, then North Carolina, where the Tigers have never beaten the Tar Heels in 56 games at Chapel Hill.
Coron Williams led the Demon Deacons with 13 points, while Tyler Cavanaugh added 12 points and Arnaud-William Adala Moto scored 10 points. Wake Forest is now 1-27 on the road in the ACC under fourth-year coach Jeff Bzdelik.
Jordan Roper scored 11 points and Landry Nnoko added eight points for Clemson.
Wake Forest’s last lead of the game came on a pair of free throws by Cavanaugh that put the Demon Deacons up 32-30 with 17:27 to go. McDaniels saved a rebound from going out of bounds back to Jaron Blossomgame for a layup. Wake Forest turned it over and Jordan Roper hit a 3-pointer. Clemson forced two misses on inside shots and McDaniels had a put back to give the Tigers a 37-32 lead with 16 minutes to go.
Like just about every team that has faced Clemson this year, the Deacons struggled to get any kind of shot. On one possession, Wake Forest got Clemson off balance with several quick passes and it looked like Codi Miller-McIntyre had an easy layup after getting two Tigers in the air with a shot fake. But Nnoko made it over to block the shot. The Demon Deacons scrambled to the loose ball and Miller-McIntyre looked open briefly for a 3, but Clemson flew over to rush the shot, which ended as an air ball.
Clemson shot 14-of-23 in the second half and 20-of-43 for the game.