Thanks to North Carolina's victory over Duke earlier in the day, No. 10 Wake locked up the second seed in next week's ACC Tournament in Atlanta with a 96-88 victory. The Tigers will be the No. 5 seed.
Florida State eliminated Clemson (23-7, 9-7) from first-round bye
consideration with a win over Virginia Tech earlier in the afternoon.
"We did a lot good things during the game and played well in stretches and
took it to them," Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said. "We were up 10 in the
first half. We just have to put it together for a whole game."
Despite knowing their ACC fate, the Tigers played inspired basketball in
the first 20 minutes. Clemson led by as many as 10 points and controlled
the last seven minutes of the half.
"We are real close to playing well, and you saw that there a little bit in
the first half, but we shot ourselves in the foot a little bit," Purnell
said. "We just have to get a little smarter than that going into the ACC
Tournament with the stakes getting a little bit higher."
Down 23-19 with 8:25 to play, Clemson went on a 15-3 run as K.C. Rivers
scored eight straight points at one point, including two bombs from behind
the arc. Trevor Booker, 18 points and 10 rebounds, then capped the run
with a dunk for a 34-26 lead.
Demontez Stitt, who scored a career-high 21 points, was a thorn in the
side of the Deacons for much of the afternoon. Wake's Jeff Teague was
unable to guard the 6-foo-2 sophomore as he scooped in one shot, drained a
three-pointer and got two more layups before the end of the half.
He scored Clemson's last 10 points to close the half and gave Clemson a
44-34 lead with 1:19 to go before the break.
"He was in attack mode," Purnell said. "We are so much better of a team
when he is attacking. One of the reasons he can attack is the reason
people play us. They get out on K.C. and TO (Terrence Oglesby) and they
are spying Book so once he breaks his guy down he has a great opportunity
to get to the rim.
"He is so quick and is so good about finishing when he gets in there. He
really has done that very well over the last three or four ball games."
But Wake changed the flow of the game before the half came, using a 6-0
run, including a dunk in transition by freshman Al-Farouq Aminu with two
second to go to make the score 44-40 at halftime.
"A lot of that was our own doing," Purnell said. "The play that sticks out
in my mind was we got an outbounds underneath their basket and we actually
throw it to their basket basically for a layup. It seems we had another
not so smart play right there on that stretch, and that 6-0 run really
"That stretch right there was really costly to us, I think."
Wake (23-5, 11-5) kept the momentum going in the second half by hitting
its first nine shots and scoring a season-high 56 points in a half against
the Clemson defense. The Tigers had no answer for James Johnson.
The sophomore finished the night with 21 points, including 17 in the
second half. Aminu also had 21 points for the Demon Deacons, along with 10
Johnson penetrated the lane with ease, along with Teague, as Wake
dominated the Tigers in the paint.
"The talent they have is outstanding," Purnell said. "Johnson is going to
be a lottery pick whether he goes out this year or next year. We know what
Teague can do. Johnson was really, really good today."
Still Rivers, who also scored 21 points, and Stitt were able to keep
Clemson in front as a Rivers to Booker dunk in transition gave the Tigers
a 54-49 lead around the 16-minute mark. However, Teague knocked down a
three to start an 11-3 Wake run and then Aminu completed a three-point
play the old fashion way to give the Deacons a 65-64 lead, and they never
From there, Wake was able to extend its lead to as many as 14 points and
most of that came with Teague on the bench with four fouls. Teague
committed his fourth foul with 12:40 to play and with his team up three,
When he came back in the game about six minutes later, the Deacons had
increased their lead to nine, 78-69. A lot of that had to do with Ishmael
Smith. He finished the game with 13 points and six rebounds.
"They just kept things going. Now that is a guy that has really been
playing well for them the last five ball games," Purnell said. "He played
well today. He controlled the ball game and hit a few of those runners
that are his shot.
"That really, really hurt us."
Up next for the Tigers, the ACC Tournament on Thursday. Clemson will play
Georgia Tech, a team it has beaten twice already this season, at 2:30 p.m.
in Atlanta's Georgia Dome.
Tigers fall at Wake
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