Tigers defeat Demon Deacons for 9th straight win
|Saturday, December 31, 2016, 3:26 PM-|
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Trailing 68-58 with 4:51 to play, Clemson put together a 15-0 run to finish its ACC opener with a dramatic, come from behind 73-68 victory over Wake Forest in Lawrence Joel Coliseum. The Tigers, who earned the program’s first ever consecutive wins in Wake’s home facility since 1989, moved to 11-2 on the season. The Demon Deacons fell to 9-5 overall, 0-2 in the ACC.
Marcquise Reed sparked Clemson’s incredible rally, scoring 17 of his game-high 21 points in the second half. The former Robert Morris transfer was brilliant Saturday, hitting 6-11 shots including 3-6 from behind the arc. He added six free throws in seven attempts, to go along with four steals and three assists in an active 25 minutes.
Reed was not alone, however. The Tigers saw a late spark from Donte Grantham, whose three from the top of the key with 3:10 to play cut the deficit to just four. Almost two minutes later, he took a pass from Reed and converted a three-point play to give Clemson its first lead of the game. Two defensive possessions later, Grantham swatted away a shot at the rim by Bryant Crawford and corralled the rebound. He finished the contest with 11 points and 10 rebounds, his first double-double of the season.
Clemson shot 50 percent in the second half and heated up from three-point distance, converting six of 10 attempts. Avry Holmes knocked in three from long range in 22 minutes. Jaron Blossomgame added 14 points for the Tigers, who won their ninth consecutive game.
The Tigers had to overcome spurts of poor play. Clemson made just 55 percent of its free throws and was outrebounded 38-33. After Elijah Thomas picked up his fourth foul with 13:13 remaining, Wake went on a 7-3 run to stretch its lead to eight. It later ballooned to as much as 13 on a three by Keyshawn Woods with 7:01 left. Clemson then scored 22 points the rest of the way, completely erasing the deficit.
The Tigers move on to face No. 9 North Carolina in their ACC home opener on Tuesday. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. in a game that will be televised nationally by ESPN2.
• Clemson won its ninth straight game, its longest winning streak since the 2008-09 team began the season with 16 consecutive victories.
• Clemson has now earned consecutive victories at Lawrence Joel Coliseum for the first time since the facility opened in 1989.
• Clemson won its eighth game over the last nine in the series with Wake Forest, all during the Brad Brownell era.
• Clemson closed out an undefeated month for the first time since December 2008. The Tigers were 7-0 in the month of December.
• The Tiger program is now 6-0 all-time on New Year’s Eve.
• Clemson won its first ACC road opener since 2013-14 at Boston College.
• The Tigers won after trailing by 13 to Wake Forest. It was the biggest deficit overcome since Clemson beat NC State in 2010-11 after trailing by 19.
• It was the largest deficit overcome in a road game since 2009-10 at Florida State, when the Tigers also trailed by 13.
• Brad Brownell earned his 53rd victory over an ACC team, six shy of tying Cliff Ellis for the career coaching record at Clemson.
• Clemson is 9-0 since Shelton Mitchell entered the lineup.
• Marcquise Reed scored 21 points, his high mark as a Tiger. He is now averaging 13.5 points per game in six contests against teams from “Power 5” conferences.
• Reed matched his career high with four steals.
• Donte Grantham produced his second career double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Both double-doubles have come the last two seasons at Wake Forest.
• Grantham made his 75th consecutive start for the Tigers on Saturday.
• Jaron Blossomgame scored 14 points on Saturday and now has 1,374 for his career. He moved past Stan Rome and Demontez Stitt into 14th place on Clemson’s career scoring list.
• Blossomgame started the 105th game of his career. That puts him in a tie with Vincent Hamilton for 10th on Clemson’s career list.