by Justin Mathis
Winston-Salem, N.C.– It was a game that featured 20 lead changes and 12 ties, but when it came down to crunch time, the 20th-ranked Clemson Tigers came through with a late defensive adjustment to escape Winston-Salem with a 75-67 victory over the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in front of 10,468 at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
After seeing Marcquise Reed and Elijah Thomas get mired in foul trouble late in the second stanza, Clemson coach Brad Brownell called an audible and switched from man over to a zone defense. The change in defense worked well in protecting Reed and Thomas, as well as forcing Wake Forest to go cold. The Demon Deacons missed 10 of their last 11 shots after the Tigers made the change.
“We thought about doing it at one time in the game,” Brownell admitted. “I do that a lot where I think about doing it and a lot of the time, I end up not doing it. With the foul situation, I thought it was a prudent play. Marcquise got his fourth (foul) with seven something to go and my staff wanted me to take him out. I wasn’t too keen on that idea (because) I like my best players out there. That was the compromise I made.”
(video by Justin Mathis)
The backcourt tandem of Reed and Gabe DeVoe provided a couple of big sparks for the Tigers when they need them the most. DeVoe posted a game-high 24 points, featuring a quintet of three pointers on seven attempts (3-for-3 in the first half) from the arc. Counting Saturday, DeVoe has made at least five triples in three straight games.
Reed, who scored 22 points on the night, played a big role in sparking a 12-3 run to close out the game. With a little over two minutes to go, the Tigers knocked three of four attempts from the line. Following the ensuing Demon Deacons possession, Reed knocked down a long jumper to put Clemson ahead 69-65 with 1:40 left in regulation.
“I thought Clemson did a very good job of executing their offense,” Wake forest head coach Danny Manning stated. “Reed, DeVoe, and Mitchell – they’re a very talented trio of guards. Reed and DeVoe went for 22 and 24, and they made some tough shots. We’ve got to do a better job of being there on the catch and contesting shots. I thought we did some pretty good things in the second half in terms of taking care of the basketball. They threw their zone at us and I don’t know if we got stagnant. We got some looks and we just didn’t knock down some shots.”
(Video by Justin Mathis)
Shelton Mitchell finished with 10 points for Clemson. Mark Donnal saw his first game action on Saturday since suffering a concussion last Sunday at Georgia Tech. Donnal had three points.
Bryant Crawford led the way for Wake Forest with a team-high 16 points, followed by Keyshawn Woods with 13 points off the bench on 5 for 12 shooting.
Overall, Clemson was 24 for 56 (42.9%) from the field, including a 10 for 24 clip (41.7%) from distance. Wake Forest was 23 for 59 (39%) and only knocked down eight of 20 attempts (40%) from three point land.
Clemson (19-4, 8-3 ACC) will return home to play Pittsburgh on Thursday, February 3rd at 7 PM. Wake Forest (9-14, 2-9 ACC) will next play against the Miami Hurricanes in Coral Gables, Florida on Thursday at 7 PM.