Tiger defense comes through against Wake


by - Senior Writer -
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Demontez Stitt and Jerai Grant scored 14 points apiece for the Tigers.


AUDIO: Brad Brownell post-game press conference (WMA Format)


CLEMSON – Midway through Saturday’s first half against Wake Forest, Clemson point guard Demontez Stitt turned to head coach Brad Brownell and flashed a quick smile and a fist pump, a demonstration that was acknowledged by a slight nod of the head from Brownell.

Wake Forest, struggling with the shot clock and Clemson’s defense, had just inbounded the ball to guard Gary Clark with four seconds remaining on the shot clock. Stitt hounded Clark up the baseline and past Brownell, and the buzzer sounded signaling Clark’s inability to get the ball off, prompting the exchange between coach and player.

Tough Clemson defense has become the standard under Brownell, and it pulled the Tigers through again on Saturday as the Tigers beat Wake Forest 63-49 at Littlejohn Coliseum, the eighth consecutive loss for the Demon Deacons.

Stitt and Jerai Grant scored 14 points apiece for the Tigers (19-9, 8-6 Atlantic Coast Conference), who had won only three of the past 20 meetings with the Demon Deacons but used another hard-nosed defensive effort to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive.

Stitt said that first play was an indication that Clemson’s players have bought into Brownell’s defensive philosophy.

“It comes with a little bit more maturity and knowing the shot clock,” he said. “I knew they had four seconds to shoot the ball and when he caught it in the corner, I was expecting him to try and get a shot off. I just wanted to stay into him and pressure and make him get a tough shot off or hopefully get the rebound off the backside. I guess he wasn't aware of the shot clock, and I just let him dribble and run out the shot clock.

“I think a little bit before ACC play is when we really realized what he [Brownell] expected defensively. We knew we had guys on the team that could score, but we didn't know how good of a team we could be defensively. It's really big for us to maintain that identity and for guys to continue buying into the defensive system and we'll keep winning games.”

The Tigers used a 14-2 first-half run to take control, and then Stitt hit three 3-pointers in the second half to maintain the double-digit lead.

Trailing 9-8, Clemson took off on a 14-2 run as it hit four straight shots and held Wake Forest to 1-of-11 shooting while forcing three turnovers.

Both teams were cold in the first half - the Tigers were 1-for-7 from 3-point range and didn't score the final four minutes of the half, yet still led 33-20 at the break. The Demon Deacons shot just 24.1 percent (7-of-29) in the opening period.

Early in the second half, Wake Forest trimmed Clemson’s double-digit lead to just nine at 39-30. Grant answered with a tough put-back as he was fouled to push the lead back to 11, and his free throw gave the Tigers a 42-30 lead.

Two minutes later, Tanner Smith hit the first of three consecutive 3-pointers – Stitt and Milton Jennings had the others – that put Clemson up 53-38 and the Tigers were able to maintain the lead the rest of the way.

“This was just a blue collar win,” Brownell said after the game. “We were aggressive defensively – maybe not at the start of the game but shortly thereafter. We missed some layups there in the first half, but we really approached the game the right way and we forced Wake out of the things they like to do offensively.”

Wake’s Travis McKie, who came into the contest leading the Deacons in scoring, was held to just five points and didn’t score his first points until 9:11 remained in the game. Brownell said stopping McKie was a team effort.

“He really didn’t get anything,” he said. “Our guys were locked in. I thought Devin had him early, and then it was Tanner’s turn on him. We kept running fresh guys at him, and the pressure seemed to bother him a little bit.”

Stitt said that holding McKie in check was another indication of the players believing what Brownell preaches.

“Coach Brownell does a great job and he preaches it every day,” Stitt said. “He doesn't like to let teams score. When you have players that buy into the system and frustrate guys trying to score, your defensive intensity and your defensive pressure goes up.”

Next up for the Tigers are the Duke Blue Devils in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The game is slated for a 9 p.m. tipoff.



VISITORS: Wake Forest 8-21, 1-13
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
30 McKie, Travis....... f  2-9    0-2    1-2    1 11 12   0   5  3  1  0  1  31
33 Desrosiers, Carson.. c  2-5    0-1    0-0    0  3  3   1   4  0  2  2  1  25
00 Terrell, J.T........ g  4-10   1-5    0-0    1  1  2   4   9  0  0  0  1  17
02 Clark, Gary......... g  2-5    0-1    3-3    1  2  3   2   7  4  5  0  3  24
11 Harris, C.J......... g  2-11   0-1    3-6    1  3  4   2   7  2  3  0  1  33
01 Chennault, Tony.....    1-7    0-1    0-0    0  3  3   3   2  1  2  0  0  21
20 Stewart, Ari........    0-1    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   1   0  0  0  1  0   6
25 Mescheriakov, Nikita    5-9    1-1    0-0    2  2  4   4  11  1  2  0  0  26
40 Walker, Ty..........    2-2    0-0    0-0    2  3  5   0   4  0  0  1  0  14
41 Godwin, Brooks......    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0   1
43 Ingle, Aaron........    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0   1
45 Keenan, Ryan........    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0   1
   TEAM................                         1  1  2
   Totals..............   20-59   2-12   7-11   9 29 38  17  49 11 15  4  7 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half:  7-29 24.1%   2nd Half: 13-30 43.3%   Game: 33.9%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  1-6  16.7%   2nd Half:  1-6  16.7%   Game: 16.7%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  5-6  83.3%   2nd Half:  2-5  40.0%   Game: 63.6%    2


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HOME TEAM: Clemson 19-9, 8-6
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
31 Booker, Devin....... f  4-9    0-1    2-2    1  9 10   2  10  1  2  1  0  28
45 Grant, Jerai........ c  6-8    0-0    2-4    1  6  7   2  14  0  2  4  2  29
02 Stitt, Demontez..... g  5-6    3-4    1-2    0  4  4   1  14  2  4  0  1  37
05 Smith, Tanner....... g  3-7    1-3    2-2    0  3  3   2   9  7  2  0  2  28
11 Young, Andre........ g  1-9    0-5    2-2    0  2  2   2   4  3  0  0  1  25
03 Anderson, Zavier....    1-1    0-0    1-2    0  2  2   0   3  4  1  0  1  12
04 Baize, Jonah........    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0   1
10 Baciu, Catalin......    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   2   0  0  0  0  0   4
12 Stanton, Cory.......    0-2    0-1    1-2    0  1  1   1   1  0  0  0  0   9
21 Narcisse, Bryan.....    0-3    0-1    0-0    1  1  2   1   0  1  1  0  2   8
24 Jennings, Milton....    3-7    2-3    0-0    1  4  5   1   8  0  2  1  2  18
44 Hopkins, DeAndre....    0-1    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0   1
   TEAM................                         1     1
   Totals..............   23-53   6-18  11-16   5 32 37  14  63 18 14  6 11 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 12-28 42.9%   2nd Half: 11-25 44.0%   Game: 43.4%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  1-7  14.3%   2nd Half:  5-11 45.5%   Game: 33.3%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  8-12 66.7%   2nd Half:  3-4  75.0%   Game: 68.8%    1


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Officials: Karl Hess, Dwayne Gladden, Tim Kelly
Technical fouls: Wake Forest-None. Clemson-None.
Attendance: 10000
Score by Periods                1st  2nd   Total
Wake Forest...................   20   29  -   49
Clemson.......................   33   30  -   63

Points in the paint-WF 26,CU 28. Points off turnovers-WF 7,CU 14.
2nd chance points-WF 4,CU 3. Fast break points-WF 4,CU 10.
Bench points-WF 17,CU 12. Score tied-4 times. Lead changed-3 times.
Last FG-WF 2nd-00:22, CU 2nd-01:55.
Largest lead-WF by 2 1st-19:27, CU by 16 1st-03:56.

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