McDaniels leads Clemson's block party in win over Wake

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik said that Clemson “owned the rim” in Tuesday’s game. If the Tigers owned the rim, then Clemson sophomore K.J. McDaniels was the guard at the gate.

McDaniels had a career-high seven of Clemson’s 11 blocks and he added 14 points and a career-high nine rebounds as Clemson won its second straight ACC contest, defeating Wake Forest 60-44 at Littlejohn Coliseum to improve to 10-6 overall and 2-2 in the conference.

The Clemson defense limited Wake Forest to just 15-of-61 shooting from the field, a 24.6% shooting percentage. The Demon Deacons were 2-of-10 from beyond the arc, held C.J. Harris (15.7 ppg) to just eight points, Travis McKie (15.2 ppg) to just 11 points and Tyler Cavanaugh to 1-of-12 shooting. The Demon Deacons also managed just three assists.

Adonis Filer scored 13 points and Devin Booker added 12 points and eight rebounds for the Tigers. Clemson, second in the ACC in points given up, held their second straight league opponent to 44 points. It’s the first time in Clemson history that Clemson has held ACC opponents to less than 45 points in back-to-back games.

Clemson head coach Brad BrownellBrad Brownell
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said his entire team had a solid defensive performance.

“I really thought we had a solid defensive performance by our entire team. It was a key to our win,” Brownell said. “Certainly when you have K.J. (Devin) Booker, and Landry (Nnoko) getting blocked shots at the rim, it helps. I thought we did a good job on C.J. Harris, who is a tremendously talented offensive scorer. I thought our guys really locked in on some scouting situations with him. I thought we played fairly well on offense, and were very opportunistic. It was good to have Jordan (Roper) back making some threes. It was also good to get Booker some touches.”
McDaniels said he went into Tuesday’s game with a more aggressive mindset.

“I’m always hungry for blocks, and then it rubs off on the rest of the team,” McDaniels said after the game. “Being able to challenge every shot pumps our team up more. Getting help from our defense helps out our offense. I knew I needed to come in and be more aggressive.”

Brownell said the style of the game played to McDaniels’ strengths.

“I think there were just more transition opportunities,” Brownell said. “When the game is in transition, he is a better player. I have said all season we really need to work to get him to become a better half court player. There are times he has a hard time creating his own shots and that’s something we have really tried to work on.”
Wake led Clemson 11-9 following a Harris 3-pointer at the 13:21 mark of the first half, but McKie and Devin Thomas were each called for their second personal fouls within the next few possessions, allowing Clemson to go on a 15-2 run over the next nine minutes. Wake went almost nine minutes without hitting a field goal and missed six consecutive shots during the stretch, many of them in close.

With Clemson ahead 22-13, Jordan Roper hit a 3-pointer, Booker added a layup and Jennings added a 3-pointer of his own that put Clemson ahead 27-15, and the Tigers led 31-21 at the intermission.

McDaniels scored the first five points of the second half and Clemson opened up a 38-21 lead, and the Demon Deacons never got closer than 12 the rest of the way.

McDaniels had back-to-back swats late in the game that brought the Littlejohn crowd to its feet, then followed a missed layup by Booker with a rebound and dunk over Cavanaugh that saw him hang halfway on the rim and halfway on Cavanaugh’s back, just further example of Wake’s problems during the game.

Wake’s Bzdelik said Clemson’s ability to block shots changed his team’s offense.

“Give Clemson credit. They owned the rim,” Bzdelik said after the game. “We had opportunities around the rim but they erased those opportunities by blocking shots. I think that shook our players and consequently we missed shots, even though we had open looks.”

The Tigers play on the road in the next two games, playing in Raleigh against N.C. State Sunday night at 6 p.m., then travel to Tallahassee to take on Florida St. the following Thursday.

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