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Wake Forest Drops ACC Opener to Clemson 57-77

Disastrous 2nd half gives Wake second loss of the season

Wake Forest v Wisconsin Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

The Wake Forest Men’s Basketball team dropped their ACC opener to the Clemson Tigers 57-77. The Deacs looked pretty good in the first half, but a disastrous second half gave Wake their 10th straight loss in Littlejohn Coliseum.

After starting the first half off 0-4 from the field, the lid on the basket was finally removed when Tyree Appleby banked in a 3-pointer after almost 3 minutes of game time. From that point, it was a pretty back and forth affair for most of the half. Wake was incredibly balanced in the scoring department in the first half with 8 of the 10 players who saw action making at least 1 field goal. Some nice contributions from Daivien Williamson and Matthew Marsh helped to give the Deacs 18 points from the bench in the first period.

Clemson was almost the complete opposite—PJ Hall finished with 10 of the Tigers’ 26 first half points and was 1 of the 4 Clemson players who made a field goal in the first half. Hall is a matchup problem for almost any team due his combination of size and skill around the rim, as well as his ability to step outside and knock down the three. The only difference between the two teams at the half came down to 3-point shooting—the Deacs finished the half 6-15 from beyond the arc compared to Clemson’s 1-10. At the break, Wake led 33-26.

Then, everything went wrong as the Tigers opened the half on a 13-3 run to reclaim the lead in less than 3 minutes. Clemson was moving the ball well and getting open 3-pointers in transition and layups off of back door cuts, while the Deacs were repeatedly throwing up contested 3-pointers off the dribble. The run was finally stopped when Cam Hildreth got fouled on a 3-point basket—he missed the free throw, but the 3-pointer tied the game up at 39.

The percentages evened out for Clemson as the second half progressed, and the Tigers caught fire. Halfway through the half, Clemson was shooting 57% from the floor and 55% from the beyond the arc. At the same time, the Deacs went ice cold, shooting 28% from the floor and just 13% from the 3-point line. The hot shooting fueled a 28-12 run for Clemson that allowed the Tigers to build a 10-point lead at the under 8-minute timeout.

The game got completely out of hand when Alex Hemenway turned into Steph Curry and just could not miss from downtown. His 4th 3-pointer of the half gave Clemson a 14-point lead and that was pretty much all she wrote. Wake isn’t going to win many games this season when no one can make a basket and the opponent has a guy shooting 100% from beyond the arc with guys right in face.

I don’t have much else to say about this one. The 2nd half of this game was simply abysmal for Wake Forest. The Deacs were outscored 51-24 and shot just 24% from the floor and 15% from beyond the arc. I’m guessing that some of that was due to fatigue from having to travel from Madison to Clemson with less than a day in Winston-Salem in between. The good news on that front is that the Deacs will get 8 days off to rest before playing LSU in Atlanta on the 10th. The bad news is that they don’t get a chance to put this one behind them for another 8 days.

This feels like kind of a letdown after the big win against Wisconsin on the road, but there are still a lot of games to be played this season. I don’t know what it is about Littlejohn Coliseum, but it really seems like the Deacs just cannot get a win there. Not only do they lose, but Wake is getting blown out of these games year after year—including this game, Wake has lost by double digits in 7 of their last 10 games in Littlejohn. Maybe the streak with end next year. Until then, we’re on to LSU.

Go Deacs!