Smith shoots Clemson past Wake Forest

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Tanner Smith had 20 points and five assists to help Clemson pull away for a 78-58 victory over Wake Forest on Saturday.

Smith hit 8-of-9 from the field, including 3-of-4 from beyond the arc, and the Tigers (12-12, 4-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) snapped a three-game losing streak.

Clemson, which shot 58.2 percent from the field for the game, used a 20-3 run over the first and second halves to end a challenge from the Demon Deacons (11-14, 2-9).

Milton Jennings added 15 points and Andre Young 12 for the Tigers.

C.J. Harris scored 18 points, Travis McKie had 13 and Nikita Mescheriakov added 12 for Wake Forest.

Even though Clemson shot 64.3 percent (18 of 28) from the field in the first half, the Demon Deacons kept it close — eight lead changes, eight ties — by hitting 15 of 15 from the free throw line.

Wake Forest last led when two free throws by Chase Fischer with 2:23 left in the first half put the Demon Deacons ahead 36-34. But Clemson closed out the half with eight unanswered points for a 42-36 halftime lead, then opened the second half with a 12-3 run to push the Tigers’ lead into double digits.

Clemson pulled ahead by as many as 23 points twice in the second half, the last at 76-53 on a Devin Booker free throw with 4:25 remaining.

After trailing by seven points in the opening minutes, Wake Forest rallied to take its first lead at 11-9 on a Harris jumper with 12:03 left. Four minutes later, Harris’ three-point play would kick off a 9-2 run that gave the Demon Deacons their biggest lead of the half, 26-19 with 6:10 remaining.

However, the Tigers rallied to tie the score at 26-26 on Jennings’ layup with 4:55 left. Clemson then swapped the lead with Wake Forest six times over the next 2 1/2 minutes before closing out the half with the eight-point run.