Reed leads Clemson to 95-83 win over Wake Forest
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) Marcquise Reed says it took one more close loss to point Clemson toward another win over Wake Forest.
Reed said the Tigers’ 64-62 defeat at No. 12 Duke last Saturday – when Clemson rallied from 14 points down and had a chance to tie or win in the final seconds – gave the players the belief their season was far from over despite their run of heart-breaking losses in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
”Not a lot of teams win at Duke,” Reed said. ”For us to take it down to end gave us a lot of confidence.”
That showed Tuesday night as Reed scored 21 points and Jaron Blossomgame had 17 points and 10 rebounds for a 95-83 win over Wake Forest. The Tigers (14-11, 4-9 ACC) snapped a three-game losing streak along with gaining their fourth consecutive win over Wake Forest (15-10, 6-8).
The Tigers saw a 21-point lead shrink to 87-81 when John Collins hit two foul shots, Bryant Crawford poked the ball away from Shelton Mitchell and followed with his third 3-pointer moments later. But Mitchell and Avry Holmes each made two foul shots to extend the Tigers margin.
Collins, Wake’s smooth sophomore, finished with a career high 29 points, his ninth straight game with at least 20 points. That’s the longest such streak in ACC play since North Carolina State’s T.J. Warren accomplished it in 15 consecutive games.
Collins, who made 12 of 14 shots, surpassed his previous best of 27 set against Miami last month. He also had 10 rebounds.
Crawford finished with 25 points, one shy of his best-ever performance. Aside from Collins and Crawford, no one else on Wake Forest scored more than nine points.
”The hole we dug for ourselves was too much,” Wake Forest coach Danny Manning said.
Mitchell and Holmes had 15 points apiece for Clemson, which hit 29 of 57 shots to finish at 50.9 percent from the field – the second time in three games they topped the 50-percent mark.
THE BIG PICTTURE
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons came in hoping to bolster a NCAA Tournament bubble resume with a solid ACC road win. But Wake Forest allowed the Tigers to shoot nearly 60 percent (16 of 27) from the floor and 50 percent on 3-pointers in the first half to take a 46-32 lead. Wake Forest came into the game 12th in the ACC in field-goal defense and three-point goal defense.
Clemson: The Tigers have been more than snakebit this season, they’ve been swallowed whole by the snake with six of their nine ACC losses coming by a combined 16 points. Just last week, Clemson fell 82-81 at home to Syracuse and 64-62 at Duke. The Tigers outscored Wake Forest 29-15 over the final nine minutes of the opening half to give themselves a solid working margin – and avoid any late-game drama.
CHANGING IT UP
Clemson coach Brad Brownell said he changed the team’s routines, sometimes going for two-a-day practices starting with one at 7 a.m. to get his players thinking solely about basketball. He acknowledged some other groups might hang their heads with all the near misses. He’s seen none of that from his players. ”That should say something about their character,” said Brownell, in his seventh season with the Tigers.
Despite Clemson’s struggles in ACC play, several projections have the Tigers on the inside of the NCAA Tournament. ESPN analyst Joe Lunardi’s field had Clemson as an 11th seed as one of his last four to make it. Clemson’s Brownell said that’s because the Tigers have played a hard non-conference schedule that, with a strong finish, should keep them above the cut line. Tigers had defeated Nebraska, Alabama and South Carolina prior to ACC play.
Wake Forest plays at No. 12 Duke on Saturday.
Clemson heads to Miami on Saturday.
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