No. 2 Wake Forest beats No. 10 Clemson
Published 10:46 pm Sunday, January 18, 2009
By By PETE IACOBELLI, AP Sports Writer
CLEMSON, S.C. — Jeff Teague thinks his coach should lighten up with talk of record-setting achievements and history-making wins.
Then again, it’s hard for Wake Forest coach Dino Gaudio to stay calm with what his team has already accomplished.
The latest came Saturday when the second-ranked Demon Deacons set a school mark by starting the season 16-0, handing No. 10 Clemson its first loss of the season, 78-68.
Teague, Wake’s point guard, had 24 points and his steady hand kept his team in front after the Tigers (16-1, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) cut a 14-point deficit to 61-60 in the final minutes.
And right now, that’s clearly one of the country’s best teams.
The Demon Deacons (16-0, 3-0) have already knocked off a No. 1 team in North Carolina and are one of two unbeatens left in Division I.
With Teague in control, they figure to have a chance at more school marks.
In this one, it went to Teague and a stellar defense that held one of the ACC’s best-shooting teams in check.
Clemson, the ACC’s third-best shooting team coming in, was held to its poorest shooting half of the season in the opening 20 minutes. The Tigers missed 13 straight shots at one stretch as Wake Forest went from a point behind to leading 37-27.
Clemson did late, turning a blowout into a tight contest.
The Demon Deacons led 58-44 after L.D. Williams’ 3-pointer with 9:32 left. The Tigers went on a 16-3 run over the next 5 minutes to pull within 61-60.
Then Teague’s smarts and speed took over.
He rushed the ball up court on Wake’s next possession, finding a sprinting Al-Farouq Aminu for a dunk. James Johnson followed with a free throw and two baskets and the Demon Deacons were on their way to surpassing the school mark for the best start set in 1926-27.
Johnson had 19 points and eight rebounds, while Aminu, a freshman, had 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Olgesby and K.C. Rivers both had 15 points for the Tigers.
Clemson fell a win short of tying its best start, established in 1986-87 and matched two years ago. The Tigers will have their hands full to avoid losing two in a row as they head to No. 5 North Carolina, where they are 0-53, on Wednesday night.
Purnell better hope so. His 17-0 team two years ago followed its stunning start by going 2-9 and played in the NIT.
It was the second straight time Wake Forest came out on top in a matchup of top 10 teams at Littlejohn Coliseum. In 1997, the fourth-ranked Demon Deacons, led by Duncan’s 16 points and 15 rebounds, defeated the second-ranked Tigers and coach Rick Barnes, 65-62.
Saturday’s game had all the trappings of a big event on this campus — a football game complete with Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney and star tailback C.J. Spiller.
Scalpers holding ‘‘I need tickets’’ signs surrounded the parking lots and entranceways at Littlejohn Coliseum.
And Clemson pulled out all the stops.
Each seat had a square orange flag with a white tiger paw in the middle.
Swinney came out at halftime to introduce what he called his first ‘‘10-star recruit’’ in Spiller, who passed up the NFL draft for his senior season.
Then Wake Forest showed off a defense that might have made Swinney envious.