#5/4 Wake Forest Deacons (10-0/1-0) vs. Clemson Tigers (7-5/0-1)
Saturday, Jan. 10 / 12:07 p.m. / Joel Coliseum (14,665) / Winston-Salem, NC / JP Sports TV
Tip-Off: 12:07 p.m.
Television: Jefferson-Pilot Sports. Tim Brandt (play-by-play) and Dan Bonner (color analysis) call the action. Beverly Rumley produces.
Radio: Deacon Radio Network (ISP). Stan Cotten (play-by-play) and Mark Freidinger (color analysis) call the action.
Records: Wake Forest is 10-0 after beating visiting Brown, 86-47 Tuesday night. Clemson is 7-5 overall and 0-1 in the ACC after a 73-54 loss to No. 2-ranked Duke on Saturday.
Rankings: Wake Forest is ranked 5th in the Associated Press poll and 4th in the ESPN/USA Today poll. Clemson is not ranked.
Coaches: Wake Forest head coach Skip Prosser (U.S. Merchant Marine Academy '72) is 56-19 in three seasons with the Deacons, 221-97 in 11 seasons overall. Clemson coach Oliver Purnell (Old Dominion '75) is 7-5 in his first season with the Tigers, 263-196 in 16 seasons overall.
SID Contacts: Wake Forest assistant athletic director/media relations Dean Buchan; Clemson SID Tim Bourret.
Websites: Wake Forest -- WakeForestSports.com; Clemson -- ClemsonTigers.com.
The Series: Wake Forest leads 90-50.
Officials: Announced on game day.
On Deck: Wake Forest travels to 18th-ranked Texas on Tuesday. Clemson hosts Florida State Tuesday night.
Wake Resumes ACC Play Vs. Clemson
Fifth-ranked Wake Forest jumps back into ACC play Saturday when it hosts Clemson at Lawrence Joel Coliseum (12:07 p.m./Jefferson-Pilot Sports TV).
The Demon Deacons, 10-0 overall and 1-0 in the ACC, are coming off an easy 86-47 win over visiting Brown Tuesday night. Wake beat the Bears with defense, recording a season-high 18 steals, forcing 29 turnovers and holding Brown to 32.1 percent shooting.
Clemson, 7-5 and 0-1, should be well-rested. The Tigers will not play again after seeing their three-game winning streak end on Saturday, 73-54, against visiting and No. 2-ranked Duke.
Wake Forest has won nine out of the last 10 meetings and leads the overall series, 90-50.
- Wake Forest puts its 23-game home court winning streak on the line Saturday. Only four current Deacs were on the roster the last time Wake lost a home game (Feb. 21, 2002 vs. Duke).
- The Deacons have won 13 straight over the Tigers in Lawrence Joel Coliseum. The Tigers' only win in Joel came in the first year of the facility in 1989-90.
- Wake is holding opponents to just 39.2 percent shooting and the Deacs have shot a higher percentage than their opponent in every game this season.
- Tuesday's game concludes a four-game homestand and marks the beginning of a difficult schedule. Wake's 17 remaining regular season games come against 15 ACC foes, plus Texas and Cincinnati.
More From Tuesday's Win Vs. Brown
Wake Forest used defense to whip visiting Brown, 86-47, Tuesday night. The Deacons raced to a 46-18 halftime lead and never looked back. More from the win over the Bears:
- Wake Forest's 18 steals were its most since Jan. 31, 1991 when the Deacons had 19 steals against Winthrop. The 18 steals tied for the fifth-most in school history.
- The Deacons shot 53.6 percent -- the sixth time in 10 games they have reached the 50 percent mark.
- Brown's 18 first-half points and 47 total points were both season lows by a Wake Forest opponent.
- Sophomore Justin Gray had a career-high six assists, tied a career-high with seven rebounds and made a three-point field goal for the 22nd consecutive game.
- Sophomore Chris Ellis, recovering from a broken foot, saw his most extensive action of the season (13 minutes).
Injury List Down To One -- Danelius
Wake Forest head trainer, assistant athletic director Greg Collins, has been one of the most active people on the Deacon staff this season as Wake has suffered more than its share of injuries.
Four different Deacons have missed a combined 13 games. Junior Vytas Danelius (high ankle sprain) has not played since Dec. 15 and continues to be listed as questionable. Sophomore Justin Gray (ankle) and freshman Chris Paul (left hand) suffered recent injuries but have not missed any game time.
Sophomore Chris Ellis is back in the fold after breaking a bone in his foot on the first day of practice.
Two other Deacons missed games earlier this season with injuries or illness. Freshman Kyle Visser (ankle) did not play against Indiana on Dec. 2. Freshman Todd Hendley (stomach virus) did not play in the Nov. 29 game at Yale.
Deacons Now Ranked In Top Five
Wake Forest is ranked in the top five of both national polls released Monday and the Deacons received first-place votes in both polls.
Wake climbed to 5th in the Associated Press poll (up from 6th) and to 4th (up from 5th) in the ESPN/USA Today poll this week.
More on Wake in the national polls:
- The Deacons have their highest AP ranking since being ranked 4th on Jan. 1, 2001.
- Wake Forest has been ranked as high as No. 2 (10 times), but has never been ranked No. 1.
- There are three ACC teams in the AP top 10 -- (2) Duke, (5) Wake Forest and (8) Georgia Tech. North Carolina is ranked 12th.
- Wake Forest has been ranked in the AP top ten 74 times in its history and 13 times since the Tim Duncan era ended in 1996-97.
- The Deacs have been ranked in the top five of the AP poll 27 times in their history.
- The Deacons have been ranked in the AP poll for 22 consecutive weeks dating back to last season. Duke is the only ACC team with a longer current streak.
- Wake has been ranked in the AP poll 36 times in 43 weeks under Skip Prosser.
- At this same point last year, Wake Forest was ranked 17th in the AP poll.
- Wake is ranked 2nd in the Sagarin Ratings, 13th in CollegeRPI.com and 5th by CBS Sportsline.
Remaining Schedule Is Loaded
Using this week's Associated Press poll as a guide, Wake Forest's remaining regular season schedule is surely one of the nation's most difficult.
Five Wake opponents -- (2) Duke, (8) Georgia Tech, (11) Cincinnati, (12) North Carolina and (18) Texas -- are ranked in the AP poll. Four other Deacon opponents -- Maryland, Memphis, Florida State and NC State -- are receiving votes for one or both national polls.
How difficult is Wake's remaining schedule? Consider that beginning with a Jan. 13 game at Texas, the Deacons play three straight ranked foes -- Texas, Duke and Georgia Tech.
Thirteen of the Deacons' final 16 regular season games come against teams either ranked or receiving votes for one or both polls.
Wake Among 10 Unbeaten Teams
Wake Forest's 10-0 start has been impressive. But not uncommon.
- The Demon Deacons begin the season 10-0 for the third time in the past four seasons.
- The 10-0 start ties for the sixth-best in Wake Forest history. The best start of 15-0 came in 1926-27.
- The Deacs are one of 10 remaining unbeaten Division I teams and are the only undefeated ACC team.
- The 10-0 start ties for the best start by a Skip Prosser-coached team. His 1996-97 Xavier team and last year's Wake Forest team both started 10-0.
CP3: Paul Earns ACC Honor Third Time Wake Forest's Chris Paul was named the ACC Rookie of the Week Monday after leading the Deacons to two victories over North Carolina A&T and New Mexico.
Paul is the first Wake Forest player to earn the honor three times since Robert O'Kelley was the ACC Rookie of the Week four times in 1997-98. O'Kelley, Loren Woods (4 times), Rodney Rogers (5), Sam Ivy (3) and Charlie Thomas (2) are the only Wake Forest players to earn the honor three times or more.
Georgia Tech's Chris Bosh and UNC's Raymond Felton both won the honor three times last year.
For the week, he combined to score 27 points and had nine assists, nine steals and a block. Paul was 7-of-15 from the field, while shooting 63 percent from three-point range and 8-of-8 from the free throw line.
Deacon-Tiger Series History
- Wake Forest leads the all-time series, 90-50.
- The Demon Deacons have won nine out of the last 10 meetings.
- Wake has won 13 straight against the Tigers in Lawrence Joel Coliseum. Clemson beat the Deacons in Joel in the first year of the facility (1989-90), but Wake has won every meeting since.
- The Deacons are 49-14 all-time against Clemson when playing at home.
- The two teams have not met in the ACC Tournament since 1998.
- Wake Forest head coach Skip Prosser is 3-2 all-time against Clemson, including a 3-1 record while at Wake Forest. His 1999 Xavier team lost to Clemson in the NIT national semifinals.
- Clemson's Oliver Purnell has never coached against Wake Forest, including his stints at Radford, Old Dominion and Dayton.
- Prosser's Xavier teams went 7-6 versus Purnell's Dayton teams when both were coaching in the Atlantic Ten.
Wake Forest-Clemson Connections
- Clemson has three North Carolinians on its roster -- Shawan Robinson (Raleigh), Chris Hobbs (Chapel Hill) and Ovarus Williams (Snow Hill).
- Clemson's Sharrod Ford and Wake's Trent Strickland both played previously at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia.
- Deacon freshman Chris Paul's brother, C.J., plays basketball in South Carolina at USC-Spartanburg.
- Five foreign players are on the combined rosters of Wake and Clemson -- Wake Forest's Vytas Danelius (Lithuania) and Jamaal Levy (Panama) and Clemson's Akin Akingbala (Nigeria), Olu Babalola (England), and Julian Betko (Slovakia).
- Tiger assistant coach Ron Bradley was 0-3 against Wake Forest as the head coach at Radford from 1992-2002.
Deacons Second Nationally In Scoring ...
Wake Forest has been lighting up the scoreboard this season, averaging a lofty 89.3 points per game.
- The Deacons are second in the nation in scoring, just behind Texas (90.7 ppg.).
- Wake already has two 100-point games.
- Here's an indication of the offensive impact Skip Prosser has had on Wake Forest. In his three years with the Deacons, Wake has scored 100-plus points six times. Before his arrival, the Deacons reached the century mark just five times in the previous 13 seasons.
- With one more 100-point game this season, Wake Forest will have more 100-point games in a season than any Deacon team since the 1982-83 team reached the century mark three times.
- The Deacs are currently averaging 1.5 more points per game than the school record of 87.8 in 1975-76.
... And Rank Highly In Steals, Assists
- Wake Forest ranks third in the nation in steals per game (12.3) behind Georgetown (12.5) and Georgia Southern (12.5).
- The 12.3 steals per game would shatter the current school record of 10.5 steals per game set in 1977-78 -- the only other season Wake averaged double-figure steals per contest.
- The Deacons rank 17th nationally in assists per game (18.2).
- The 18.2 assists per game would break the school single-season record of 17.3 assists per game in 1987-88.
- The Deacons also rank sixth nationally in scoring margin (+21.3).
Homecourt Streak At 23
Wake Forest has not lost a home game since Feb. 21, 2002 -- a streak of 23 consecutive wins. The Deacons won their final home game in 2001-02, went 16-0 at home last season and are 6-0 in Lawrence Joel Coliseum this year.
The 23-game streak is the fourth-longest current streak in Division I.
The Wake Forest school record for consecutive home court wins is 25 from 1995-97. That 25-game streak by the Deacons ties for the eighth-longest in ACC history.
Deacs One Of ACC's Youngest Teams
Wake Forest may have lost just one starter from last year's 25-6 team, but youth still rules the Deacons.
- There are no scholarship seniors on the Wake roster and the Deacs have just three juniors. Nine of 12 scholarship players are either freshmen or sophomores.
- Wake Forest is one of just six schools in Division I with no scholarship seniors.
- Wake is the only ACC team with no scholarship seniors on the roster.
- The oldest players on the team are 22-year olds Vytas Danelius and Taron Downey.
- Wake Forest will likely not start a senior this season. The last time the Deacons did not start a senior all season came in 1987-88.
Thinner "Big E" Scoring, Not Hacking
Sophomore center Eric Williams weighs about the same as he did last year (275 pounds), but he has gotten stronger and lowered his body fat. The Wake Forest (NC) native has also re-shaped his game.
Last season as a freshman, "Big E" battled more than just a weight problem. He was foul-prone and inconsistent. This year he is establishing himself as one of the premier players in the ACC. More:
- The 6-9, 275-pound Williams has doubled his scoring average from last season (from 8.7 ppg. to a team-high 17.2 ppg.).
- Williams ranks third in the ACC in scoring behind NC State's Julius Hodge. He is trying to follow Josh Howard as the ACC's leading scorer, which would give Wake Forest consecutive conference scoring leaders for the first time since Len Chappell led the ACC in both 1961 and 1962.
- He ranks second in the ACC in field goal percentage (.598).
- Williams ranks 14th in the ACC in rebounds per game (5.9).
- He ranks ninth in the ACC in offensive rebounds per game (2.70).
- The big guy even ranks 12th in the ACC in free throw percentage (.686).
- Williams has started all 41 games of his career.
- He was named ACC Player of the Week Dec. 22. - He was instrumental in Wake's triple-overtime win at 4th-ranked North Carolina. He hit what proved to be the game-winner in the third overtime and scored 24 points against the Tar Heels.
- Last season foul trouble was a problem as Williams committed a team-high 96 personal fouls and fouled out five times. This season he is committing less than three fouls per game and has yet to foul out.
Banged-Up Gray Keeps Scoring
Guard Justin Gray, one of the toughest players on Skip Prosser's roster, has overcome injuries to both ankles and his right elbow to averaged 26.4 minutes per game and hit several big buckets. More on Gray:
- Because of a broken jaw that caused him to miss a month of action last season, he has played in just 33 career games.
- Gray has made at least one three-point field goal in 22 consecutive games. - He has scored in double figures in 17 of his last 18 games.
- With 26 three-point field goals in 10 games this season, Gray ranks second only to Florida State's Tim Pickett in the ACC for three-pointers per game.
- His six three-point field goals at SMU (Dec. 15) tie for the most by any ACC player this season.
- Gray ranks 14th in the ACC in scoring (13.7), second in three-point field goals per game (2.60), 10th in three-point percentage (.361) and 11th in assists (3.3).
Downey Climbs In Record Books
Junior guard Taron Downey, at his current pace, will have his name in the Wake Forest record books.
- Downey's career free throw percentage (.842) is the fourth-highest in Wake Forest history. He is shooting 85.7 percent from the stripe this season, which would rank second in the league if had enough attempts to qualify.
- He is five three-point field goals away from becoming the 11th player in school history to make 100 career three-pointers.
- With 230 career assists, Downey will become the eighth player at Wake to record 300 career assists.
- He is 24 point shy of his 600th career point. - This season, he ranks second in the ACC in assist-turnover ratio, ninth in assists per game, 11th in three-point field goals and 13th in three-point percentage.
Deacons Are Balanced Bunch
The Deacons are sharing the spotlight this season:
- Five different Deacons average at least 10.8 points per game and nine players are contributing at least 5.0 points per contest.
- Eight different players have scored in double figures at least twice and four different Deacs have scored 20 or more points in a game.
- Ten different Deacons have made at least one three-point field goal.
- Ten different Wake Forest players are averaging at least 10 minutes of action per game.
"Mayor" One Of Nation's Top Rookies
Chris Paul has established himself as one of the nation's top freshmen and one of the top point guards in a conference loaded with talented players at that position. Consider:
- Paul leads the nation in steals per game (4.3).
- He leads all ACC freshmen and ranks fourth in the ACC in assists per game (5.90).
- He leads all conference freshmen ranks fourth in the ACC in assist-turnover ratio (2.68).
- Paul has 59 assists and just 22 turnovers in a team-high 319 minutes of action.
- Paul has been named ACC Rookie of the Week three times (Dec. 8, Dec. 22 and Jan. 5).
- His six steals at SMU Dec. 15 tied a Wake Forest freshman record held by Rodney Rogers and tied for the ninth-most every by a Deacon, regardless of class.
- His nine assists at SMU were one short of tying a Wake Forest freshman single-game record.
- Paul has at least two steals in every game.
- He is shooting 82.7 percent from the free throw line, which ranks second in the ACC, and he goes to the free-throw line more often than any Deacon.
- He has started every game and leads the team in minutes played (31.9 mpg.). - The shortest player on the roster, Paul (6-0) has six blocked shots.
- Paul (12.4 points per game), who ranks second among ACC freshmen in scoring, is a scoring threat and a three-point shooting threat (11 three-pointers). He made four three-point field goals Jan. 3 against New Mexico.
- Paul is attempting to become the first freshman to lead the ACC in steals since NC State's Chris Corchiani in 1988.
- He is attempting to become the first Deacon player, regardless of class, to lead the ACC in steals since Tyrone Bogues did it three straight years from 1985-87.
- Among all freshmen in Wake Forest history, Paul already ranks seventh in steals, ninth in assists and second in free throw percentage.
NCAA Steals Leaders Chris Paul Wake Forest 4.3 Marques Green St. Bonaventure 4.2 Louis Ford Howard 4.1 Obie Trotter Alabama A&M 3.8 Five tied with 3.3 Through Jan. 5
Most Steals By A Deacon Freshman 6, Chris Paul Dec. 15, 2002 at SMU 6, Rodney Rogers Feb. 24, 1991 vs. Clemson 5, Chris Paul Jan. 3, 2004 vs. New Mexico 5, Chris Paul Dec. 20, 2003 at North Carolina 5, Chris Paul Dec. 6, 2003 vs. Richmond 5, Chris Paul Dec. 2, 2003 vs. Indiana 5, Taron Downey Feb. 6, 2002 vs. North Carolina 5, Six other times
Most Assists By A Wake Forest Freshman 10, Derrick McQueen Dec. 28, 1988 vs. New Mexico 9, Chris Paul Dec. 15, 2002 at SMU 9, Randolph Childress Feb. 4, 1991 vs. William & Mary 9, Derrick McQueen Jan. 2, 1989 vs. UNCW 8, Chris Paul Dec. 20 at North Carolina 8, Chris Paul Dec. 6, 2003 vs. Richmond 8, Chris Paul Dec. 6, 2003 vs. Indiana 8, Justin Gray March 21, 2003 vs. ETSU 8, Derrick McQueen Feb. 25, 1989 vs. Maryland
Levy Defies His Lanky Frame
At 6-9 and just 180 pounds, Jamaal Levy is a good example of one of Skip Prosser's favorite sayings: "It's now how big you are, it's how big you play."
Levy uses his thin frame and quickness to his advantage to become one of the ACC's best rebounders:
- Levy leads the team and ranks third in the ACC in rebounding (8.7 rpg.). - He ranks third in the ACC in offensive rebounds per game (3.20).
- Levy currently averages more total rebounds per game than any Deacon since Tim Duncan in 1997.
- ESPN's Jay Bilas recently labeled Levy the ACC's most underrated player.
Clamping Down On Defense - Wake Forest has held 12 consecutive opponents, dating back to last season, to less than 50 percent shooting.
- Seven of Wake's 10 opponents this season shot less than 40 percent.
- The Deacs shot a higher percentage than their opponent in every game this season.
Wake Vs. Ranked Opponents
- Wake Forest is 1-0 against ranked teams this season -- a win at 4th-ranked North Carolina on Dec. 20.
- The Deacons are 4-3 in their last seven games against ranked teams.
1,300 In Sight
With 1,293 all-time victories, Wake Forest is seven wins shy of reaching the 1,300-win milestone. The Deacons are 1,293-990 all-time.
Strickland Leads Deep Bench
Sophomore Trent Strickland is leading the largest and most talented group of reserves that Wake Forest has had in years.
The Deacon bench has outscored the opponent's non-starters in eight of 10 games this season. Strickland (7.4 points and 3.4 rebounds per game) is playing his best basketball. He has scored in double figures in three of his last four games, including a career-best 15 points at North Carolina.
Freshman Kyle Visser (5.6 ppg., 3.4 rpg.) has been a huge surprise. He had career highs of 13 points and eight rebounds in the win at UNC.
Freshman Todd Hendley has played in every game in which he's been healthy. Sophomore Richard Joyce and freshman Jeremy Ingram have also seen significant action. The bench recently got deeper with the addition of sophomore Chris Ellis, who missed the first seven games with a broken foot.
Better With Time
Wake Forest has improved its winning percentage every decade since the 1960s. In the 60s, the Deacons won just 50.7 percent of their games. That percentage increased to .535 in the 1970s, .537 in the 1980s, up to .666 in the 1990s and is at .714 this decade. In the 1980s Wake won just 34.3 percent of its ACC games, compared to 56.9 percent in the 1990s and 63.3 percent this decade.
Three Midgets Quite A Trio
Wake Forest uses a three-guard lineup of 6-0 freshman Chris Paul, 6-2 sophomore Justin Gray and 6-2 junior Taron Downey. While the Deacon lineup may be short, it is extremely quick.
What makes Wake's three-guard lineup somewhat unique is that all three players can play point guard. Paul is the player at the point when he's in the lineup, but Downey played point guard his first two seasons and Gray also handles the ball well enough to play the position.
All three players rank among the top 11 in the ACC in assist-turnover ratio.
Combined Statistics Of Paul, Gray and Downey Points Per Game 37.1 Three-Pointers Per Game 5.3 Assists Per Game 12.9 Turnovers Per Game 5.9 Steals Per Game 7.1 Rebounds Per Game 10.0
Props To Skip
Wake Forest head coach Skip Prosser won his 221st career game Tuesday while improving his three-year record at Wake Forest to 56-19.
Prosser's winning percentage at Wake (.747) gives him the fourth-highest percentage in the 51-year history of the ACC. Only Dean Smith (.776), Mike Krzyzewski (.771) and Vic Bubas (.761) have/had higher winning percentages than Prosser.
Wake Forest's three-year record under Prosser is comparable to the Tim Duncan era. The Deacons won 80 percent of their games in the three-year period from 1995-97.
Not Used To Trailing
Wake Forest has trailed in the second half just twice this season -- Dec. 20 at 4th-ranked North Carolina and Jan. 3 against New Mexico.
In wins over Elon, Yale, Indiana and Brown, the Deacons led wire-to-wire. The Deacons trailed briefly in the first half of wins against Memphis, Richmond, SMU and North Carolina A&T.
Wake's largest deficit of the season was 11 points (8-19) early in the first half of the North Carolina game.
This Year Vs. Last Year
Wake Forest went 25-6 last year and captured the ACC regular season title. Along the way, senior Josh Howard was the unanimous ACC Player of the Year.
So, how does this year's team -- minus Howard -- compare to last year?
Last year's team led the nation in rebounding while this year's team owns just a +3.1 rebound margin. Last year's team was also one of the ACC's best free-throw shooting teams (75.2%).
This year's team, however, takes better care of the basketball. The Deacons lead the ACC in turnover margin, while last year's club ranked eighth in the ACC. This year's team is also scoring at a higher rate, ranking second in the nation in scoring offense.
Category Last Season This Season W-L Thru 10 Games 10-0 10-0 Scoring 77.8 89.3 Scoring Margin +10.0 +21.3 Rebound Margin +9.7 +3.1 FG Percentage 45.3 49.1 3PT Percentage 34.1 35.5 FT Percentage 75.2 70.5 Turnover Margin - 1.1 +7.1 FG% Defense 39.7 39.2