Tigers Fall Hard

CLEMSON – The bad news for Clemson is that it begins its Atlantic Coast Conference play winless, which includes a record-setting loss. The good news is thanks to the new formatted conference schedule, the Tigers don't have to face Duke and Wake Forest again in the regular season. <br><br>

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And that is just fine with Clemson, who took a serious one on the chin in a 103-68 thumping by the Demon Deacons Saturday afternoon in front of 9,700 at Littlejohn Coliseum.

"We just didn't much of anything that I can think of well and when you do that against a team of this caliber, things like this are going to happen," Tigers coach Oliver Purnell said. "I'm sure it's embarrassing to our guys as much as it is to me. … I'm surprised we played this poorly."

It was the worst loss in the history of Littlejohn Coliseum, which opened in the 1968-69 season. It's the worst home loss anywhere for the Tigers in over 50 years, when N.C. State won by 40 at 112-72 on Dec. 14, 1954, at Fike Fieldhouse.

It was also the largest margin of victory for Wake Forest on the road against an ACC team since the conference began in 1954.

The loss was so bad that at one point, the Tigers had scored 52 points and the Wake Forest combination of guard Justin Gray and center Eric Williams had scored 50 points. Gray finished with 31, 15 of which came on his first five shots in the game's first 4:35 of play, while Williams finished with 21 points and seven rebounds.

"This is one of the most embarrassing losses I've ever experienced," said Clemson forward Sharrod Ford, who was 0-for-5 from the field and finished with six points. "And I've been through some bad losses here at Clemson."

Clemson falls to 9-5 overall and 0-2 in ACC play, while the Demon Deacons improve to 13-1 and 2-0 in the ACC.

It was so evident that the day belonged to Wake Forest that it held a 66-42 lead with 15:31 left to play in the game and had committed only three turnovers. Making matters worse was the fact that it shot 59 percent from the field. Clemson hit just 41.7 percent of its shots.

"We just came out and laid an egg," Robinson said. "We didn't do nothing right and we got punished."

The first half literally belonged to Gray, who nailed his first five 3-point shots to ultimately finish with 25 points in the first 20 minutes of play. And when Gray wasn't drilling shots from the outside, Williams controlled the inside for Wake Forest, who had 11 points and four rebounds in the opening half.

All this helped the Demon Deacons jump to a 13-point lead at 22-9 with 13:40 remaining in the opening half. However, Clemson clawed its way back to pull within 26-21 with 7:42 left, but Wake Forest put together another surge.

The Demon Deacons went on a 9-1 run and pushed its lead back to 13 points at 35-22 with 5:22 to go. Both teams traded baskets the rest of the way and Wake Forest went into halftime leading 48-37.

As a team, the Demon Deacons made 50 percent of their field goals, while Clemson hit on just 44 percent. Another area of strength for Wake Forest was its free throw shooting, making 13-of-16, while the Tigers made just 11-of-19 from the charity stripe.

For the game, Clemson connected on just 22-of-37 from the free throw line.

"We're going to spend most of the day tomorrow shooting free throws (in practice)," Purnell said.

Clemson was led by center Akin Akingbala with 16 points. Shawan Robinson added 10 points to be the only other Tiger to score in double figures.

"How many I scored is not the point," Akingbala said. "The point is we lost as a team. We've got to forget about it. The Duke game and the Wake Forest game is all over. We've just got to get ready for Florida State."

The Tigers face the Seminoles 7 p.m., Wednesday, in Tallahassee, Fla. The game is not on television.

"We got outclassed by (Wake Forest) and had an overall team breakdown," Purnell said. "It'll be interesting to see how we bounce back from this. We've got to get a win."

Wake Forest (13-1) - Levy 4-5 0-0 8, Danelius 1-1 0-0 3, E.Williams 6-10 9-13 21, Gray 10-19 6-6 31, Paul 6-9 0-1 14, Ellis 1-4 0-0 2, Downey 2-3 1-2 5, Keith 0-0 2-2 2, Feather 0-0 0-0 0, Strickland 4-8 4-5 12, Jessen 0-0 0-0 0, Buck 0-0 0-2 0, Visser 2-2 1-2 5. Totals 36-61 23-33 103.

CLEMSON (9-5) - Ford 0-5 6-10 6, Moore 1-2 1-2 3, Akingbala 5-6 6-9 16, Robinson 3-5 2-2 10, Hammonds 3-8 0-0 9, Waiters 0-0 2-2 2, Hamilton 3-7 1-1 7, Allen 0-2 0-0 0, Babalola 1-5 1-2 3, Hudson 2-5 0-0 5, Morris 0-0 0-0 0, Perry 0-0 0-2 0, Mays 2-3 3-7 7. Totals 20-48 22-37 68.

3-Point Goals — Wake Forest 8-14 (Gray 5-9, Paul 2-2, Danelius 1-1, Ellis 0-2); Clemson 6-19 (Hammonds 3-7, Robinson 2-4, Hudson 1-3, Hamilton 0-1, Moore 0-1, Babalola 0-3). Fouled out — Danelius. Rebounds — Wake Forest 34 (Levy 12); Clemson 28 (Ford 7). Assists — Wake Forest 20 (Paul 6); Clemson 11 (Hamilton 3). Total fouls — Wake Forest 27; Clemson 28. Attendance — 9,700.

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