Clemson Edges Wake Forest in OT


by - Correspondent -
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CLEMSON - Just when it looked like the magic had run out, Clemson found a few last grains of sand in the hourglass.


The Tigers rallied from a five-point deficit in the final :32 to force overtime Wednesday night, then withstood a tense final few seconds in the extra period to edge Wake Forest, 74-73. The game was played before an announced crowd of 9,400 at Littlejohn Coliseum.


Clemson's (13-3, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) win over the Demon Deacons was rare, to say the least. Wake Forest (11-4, 0-2) had won five straight and 12 of the last 13 games between the teams.


And to think this would be the night the Tigers would bring an end to the skid might have been folly, at least on paper. Clemson's offensive struggles had been mounting with no end in sight since losing James Mays and his inside presence to academic woes.



But on this evening the Tigers hit just enough shots and played just enough defense to eke out the one-point win. This despite another game in which Oliver Purnell's team struggled on the boards - the Deacs dominated the rebounding battle 52-36.


"This was an outstanding win for us. It came off a defeat, which makes it even bigger," Purnell said. "We followed our game plan...We wanted to pressure, to cause turnovers, and it helped keep them from posting up and gave them something else to think about."


Clemson had led by as many as 12 points through the middle stages of the second half, but a subtle defense change by Wake Forest nearly caused Tiger shooters to misfire one time too many.


The Demon Deacons went to a match-zone and extended it well beyond the paint to harass Clemson on the perimeter, and the strategy worked. The Tigers scored just one basket - a short jumper in the paint by reserve center Steve Allen - in over 8:30 heading down the stretch.


During the same time frame, Wake Forest went from down 12 to ahead by five, 66-61, before Akin Akingbala got free for a dunk with 31.9 seconds left in the game.


Following a timeout, Cliff Hammonds forced Wake's Justin Gray to lose the ball off his foot and out of bounds on ensuing inbound pass. Hammonds then whipped the near-capacity crowd into a frenzy when he tied the game at 64-64 with a 3-pointer from the left corner at :28.1.


The Tigers had a chance to win in regulation when Gray, the senior guard and leading scorer for Skip Prosser's team, turned it over again on a 5-second call thanks to good defensive pressure by Clemson's K.C. Rivers.


Rivers then had a chance to send everyone home happy, getting a good look at a 3-pointer from the right wing as time expired. But the shot rimmed out and the game headed to overtime.


"We went from down 12 to up five, on the road in the ACC, and still couldn't win it," Prosser said. "That's discouraging."


In the extra frame Clemson again found itself trailing, this time 71-68, after Harvey Hale knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 3:33 to go.


But Vernon Hamilton brought the Tigers within a point when he hit a pair of free throws on the next possession, and moments later Clemson took the lead for good on an Akingbala dunk at 1:53.


Hamilton then hit the key shot of the game for Clemson - a driving layup high off the glass with 49.9 remaining to put the Tigers up 74-71. It proved to be a big shot because Wake's Eric Williams immediately answered with a short jumper in the paint, and on its next two possessions the Tigers twice would miss the front end of the bonus free throw situation.


But the Deacs couldn't take advantage of two opportunities to win it in the final 13 seconds.


First, Allen blocked a desparation shot by Strickland on the right baseline and knocked the ball out of bounds. The clock read :00 at that point and the Clemson students rushed the floor.


But when officials reviewed the play replays showed the ball went out of bounds with half a second remaining. Wake Forest tried to get a lob pass inside to Williams for a quick shot ahead of the buzzer, but Rivers tipped away the pass and Clemson escaped with a much-needed victory.


"Guys made plays," Purnell said. "We got a lot of deflections tonight. Julius Powell and Raymond Sykes played big as freshmen tonight. Sikes gave us and extra body and helped out on the press. He blocked three or four shots right on the rim."


In fact, it was the presence of Sykes that helped the Tigers look more like the team that bolted out to an 11-0 start before the loss of Mays. Though he didn't score and only had two rebounds, Sykes played a pivotal role at the top of Clemson's press.


Wake Forest has struggled with point guard play all season, and with Sykes energizing the pressure defense again Clemson forced Wake Forest into 22 turnovers. Throw in 15 blocked shots - three by Sykes - and it was defense which again carried the Tigers to a victory.


"We turned it over 22 times and they blocked 15 shots," Prosser said. "That's 37 times we didn't get the ball to the rim. And still we went to overtime...Praise Clemson. They made plays when they had to."


Hamilton and Hammonds each scored 21 points to lead Clemson, while Rivers and Akingbala added 10 each.


Gray topped Wake Forest with 27, while Williams finished with 22.


Clemson returns to action at 2 p.m. Saturday, hosting No. 1 Duke.


VISITORS: Wake Forest 11-4,0-2
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
33 Trent Strickland.... f  4-11   0-1    1-4    4  5  9   2   9  2  2  1  1  42
55 Kyle Visser......... f  0-3    0-0    2-3    0  1  1   1   2  1  0  0  0   9
31 Eric Williams....... c 10-17   0-0    2-3    6 14 20   4  22  1  2  1  3  44
01 Justin Gray......... g  7-19   2-8   11-13   0  2  2   0  27  7  7  0  2  44
02 Shamaine Dukes...... g  0-1    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  2  0  0   6
00 Chris Ellis.........    0-2    0-1    2-2    2  3  5   2   2  0  6  0  0  22
04 Harvey Hale.........    2-3    1-1    0-0    0  2  2   3   5  1  2  0  1  17
11 Cameron Stanley.....    1-4    0-1    0-1    2  2  4   1   2  0  1  0  0  14
23 Kevin Swinton.......    0-1    0-0    0-0    1  2  3   2   0  0  0  1  1  15
34 Michael Drum........    2-2    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   1   4  1  0  0  0  12
   TEAM................                         4  2  6
   Totals..............   26-63   3-12  18-26  19 33 52  16  73 13 22  3  8 225


TOTAL FG% 1st Half:  9-26 34.6%   2nd Half: 15-31 48.4%   OT:  2-6  33.3%   
          Game: 41.3%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  1-4  25.0%   2nd Half:  1-6  16.7%   OT:  1-2  50.0%   
          Game: 25.0%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  7-10 70.0%   2nd Half:  9-14 64.3%   OT:  2-2  100 %   
          Game: 69.2%   2,1


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
HOME TEAM: Clemson 13-3,2-1
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
32 Sam Perry........... f  0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   4   0  0  3  0  0   9
42 Julius Powell....... f  1-7    0-4    1-2    2  1  3   1   3  0  2  2  0  25
33 Akin Akingbala...... c  5-7    0-0    0-2    1  4  5   4  10  0  1  2  2  28
03 Vernon Hamilton..... g  8-18   3-7    2-3    3  2  5   0  21  3  1  0  4  38
25 Cliff Hammonds...... g  7-14   4-10   3-5    1  4  5   4  21  3  1  2  3  39
01 K.C. Rivers.........    4-12   0-5    2-2    2  7  9   2  10  2  2  0  2  31
04 Steve Allen.........    1-1    0-0    0-0    2  1  3   4   2  1  1  1  3  14
12 Raymond Sykes.......    0-1    0-0    0-0    1  1  2   2   0  0  1  3  1  15
20 Troy Mathis.........    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  1  0  0   2
22 Shawan Robinson.....    2-9    1-6    2-2    0  3  3   1   7  3  1  0  0  24
   TEAM................                            1  1             1
   Totals..............   28-69   8-32  10-16  12 24 36  22  74 12 15 10 15 225


TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 13-34 38.2%   2nd Half: 12-29 41.4%   OT:  3-6  50.0%   
      Game: 40.6%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  5-16 31.3%   2nd Half:  3-15 20.0%   OT:  0-1   0.0%   
      Game: 25.0%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  6-9  66.7%   2nd Half:  2-3  66.7%   OT:  2-4  50.0%   
      Game: 62.5%    1


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Officials: Jim Haney, Reggie Greenwood, Ray Natili
Technical fouls: Wake Forest-Trent Strickland. Clemson-None.
Attendance: 9400
Score by Periods                1st  2nd   OT   Total
Wake Forest...................   26   40    7  -   73
Clemson.......................   37   29    8  -   74
ID-389700

Points in the paint-WF 36,CU 32. Points off turnovers-WF 16,CU 25.
2nd chance points-WF 15,CU 14. Fast break points-WF 6,CU 10.
Bench points-WF 13,CU 19. Score tied-2 times. Lead changed-6 times.
Last FG-WF OT-00:40, CU OT-00:52.
Largest lead-WF by 5 2nd-00:57, CU by 12 1st-02:21.

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