Deacons trip Tigers, 96-88, Clemson to be No. 5 seed in ACC Tournament
The Clemson Tigers knew their ACC Tournament seeding before Sunday’s game at 10th-ranked Wake Forest, but a win would still have given the 18th-ranked Tigers a confidence boost heading into Thursday.
Instead it was Wake Forest that will head into Atlanta on a high, getting 21 points from James Johnson, 17 of which were in the second half, as the Demon Deacons earned the second seed in the tourney with a 96-88 comeback victory over Clemson in Winston-Salem, their 17th consecutive home win over the Tigers.
The Florida St. Seminoles defeated Virginia Tech earlier in the day, relegating Clemson to a No. 5 seed and Thursday game against 12th-seeded Georgia Tech, which will start at 2:30 p.m. in the Georgia Dome.
Demontez Stitt scored a career-high 21 points and K.C. Rivers also scored 21 for the Tigers (23-7, 9-7), who lost for the third time in four games to finish with a 9-7 ACC record for the second consecutive season.
The Tigers looked like a team on a mission early, jumping out to a 44-34 lead late in the first half, looking like the team that jumped out to a fast ACC start this season. The Demon Deacons scored the last six before the half, however, and the Tigers led by four, 44-40, at the half with Stitt scoring 15 of his points in the first 20 minutes, including a 3-pointer and several driving lay-ups.
The Demon Deacons came out in the second half and eventually went back ahead, at 71-66, before Rivers hit a three that put Clemson within two at 71-69, but it was then that Johnson went to work.
Johnson hit a 3-pointer that started a 7-0 Demon Deacon run, then followed with an exclamation point one-handed dunk that put Wake ahead 83-71, effectively ending Clemson’s hopes of an upset.
Junior forward Trevor Booker also added 18 points for the Tigers, and grabbed 10 of Clemson’s 22 rebounds (Wake had 36).
At the ACC Tournament, it will be No. 8 Virginia Tech vs. No. 9 Miami , Noon (Raycom); No. 5 Clemson vs. No. 12 Georgia Tech, 2:30 p.m. (Raycom); No. 7 Maryland vs. No. 10 NC State, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN2); and No. 6 Boston College vs. No. 11 Virginia , 9:30 p.m. (Raycom).
On Friday, Game No. 5: No. 1 North Carolina vs. Virginia Tech/Miami winner, Noon (Raycom/ESPN2); Game No. 6: No. 4 Florida State vs. Clemson/Georgia Tech winner, 2:30 p.m. (Raycom/ESPN2); Game No. 7: No. 2 Wake Forest vs. Maryland/NC State winner, 7:00 p.m. (Raycom/ESPN2); Game No. 8: No. 3 Duke vs. Boston College/Virginia winner, 9:30 p.m. (Raycom/ESPN2).