CLEMSON, SC – K.J. McDaniels scored 11 of his game-high 15 points in the second half and posted a double-double to lead Clemson to a 61-53 victory over Wake Forest on Saturday at Littlejohn Coliseum. With the win, the Tigers matched their win total from last season (13) and moved to 4-1 in the ACC for the first time since 1996-97. Wake fell to 12-6 overall, 2-3 in the ACC.
For the second straight year, McDaniels stole the show against the Demon Deacons. The junior followed up last year’s impressive performance with a 15-point, 12-rebound effort Saturday. He added four blocked shots, giving him 11 over Clemson’s last two home games with Wake Forest. Jordan Roper added 11 points, while Adonis Filer and Landry Nnoko chipped in eight apiece.
Wake Forest had three scorers in double figures, led by Coron Williams with 13 points. The Deacons shot just 36 percent for the game. Clemson, conversely, shot 46.5 percent and a strong 18-for-21 (.857) at the free throw line. The Tigers added 10 blocks, the third time this season Clemson had a double digit total.
The game was sluggish early, as the two teams struggled to shoot the ball and Clemson was guilty of too many turnovers. After Wake had taken a 7-2 lead, Ibrahim Djambo swished a three from the top to tie the game. It was Djambo’s first made three since Nov. 29. The Tigers fought to tie it two additional times in the half before taking their first lead at 15-14 on a pair of Damarcus Harrison free throws.
Clemson took a four-point lead with 1:44 left on McDaniels’ only made field goal of the half, a 15-footer. But Wake scored six of the final seven points to pull within one at the break, 26-25, punctuated by a pair of free throws by Arnaud Adala Moto inside the final 30 seconds.
The crowd roared to life after Clemson took a 37-32 lead following a Roper three and putback by McDaniels. The Deacs managed to stay within striking distance until Djambo’s second three-pointer of the game gave Clemson its largest lead at 52-45 going into the final media timeout. With Clemson still up six, 53-47, McDaniels drove from the left wing into the paint and skied in for a thunderous one-handed slam to bring the capacity crowd to its feet. From that point, Wake never got any closer than six points over the final two minutes.
The Tigers start a tough road stretch next week. Five of Clemson’s next six will be on the road, starting at Pittsburgh next Tuesday. The game will tip at 8 p.m. from the Peterson Events Center.
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