Big second half lifts Tigers over Wake Forest

by - Senior Writer -
<span style="font-size:.7em">Jeremy Brevard / USATODAY</span>
Jeremy Brevard / USATODAY

Clemson outscored Wake Forest in a big second half, overcoming an eight-point halftime deficit, defeating the Demon Deacons 76-62 Tuesday night at the Lawrence Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem.

Jaron Blossomgame led the Tigers with 22 points, his fifth consecutive game with at least 20 points. He is the first Clemson player to do it against any opponent since Will Solomon did it in six straight in 2000-01. Blossomgame also led the Tigers with 13 rebounds in collecting the double-double.

Avry Holmes added 17 points, while Jordan Roper had 16 and Donte Grantham 15.

Clemson improves to 14-8 overall, 7-3 in the ACC. Wake Forest falls to 10-12, 1-8 ACC.

The win was notable it that Clemson scored its fewest points in a half this season in the first half (20) and turned around to score the most points in a half this season in the second half (56). The Tigers also hit 21-of-23 free throws in the second half.

The Tigers jumped out to an 11-2 lead early in the first half, a Blossomgame 3-pointer extending the advantage to eight at the 15:44 mark. However, the Tigers would face foul trouble from their big men – a familiar refrain lately – and the Demon Deacons outscored Clemson 26-11 the rest of the way for a 28-20 halftime lead.

The Tigers turned up the defensive intensity to begin the second half, a half that started with an 11-0 run. Blossomgame hit two free throws for a 31-28 lead just three minutes into the half. The teams traded the lead over the next five minutes, but back-to-back 3-pointers by Avry Holmes and Jordan Roper gave Clemson a 49-40 lead.

Five points by Codi Miller-McIntyre and a layup brought the Demon Deacons storming back – trimming the Clemson advantage to just two at 49-47. However, the Tigers hit free throws in bunches and two Blossomgame free throws with four minutes remaining gave Clemson a 10-point lead at 66-56.

The Tigers were able to hit their free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

Tuesday’s meeting will be the only this season with Wake Forest. Clemson completes a three-game road swing with a 4 p.m. tipoff at Virginia Tech Saturday. The Tigers return to the Bon Secours Wellness Arena next Tuesday in a 9 pm. start against Notre Dame.

Postgame Notes

* Clemson won its third game in Lawrence Joel Coliseum (1990, 2012, 2016) on Tuesday in 21 trips to Winston-Salem.

* The Tigers followed their lowest scoring half of the season (20) with their highest (56).

* The 56 points were the most in any half in 185 games under head coach Brad Brownell. The point total was the highest since the 2008-09 team scored 59 against Maryland in the second half on February 17.

* Clemson made 26-30 free throws Tuesday to boost its accuracy to 80 percent in ACC games (180-225).

* Tuesday’s game was the first time the Tigers scored at least 75 in an ACC road win since Feb. 11, 2012, which coincidentally was also the last time Clemson won at Wake Forest.

* Jaron Blossomgame scored 22 points, his fifth straight ACC game with at least 20. He is the first Tiger to do it in five consecutive ACC games since Horace Grant in 1986-87.

* Blossomgame needs 53 points to reach 1,000 for his career.

* Blossomgame had a double-double, his first in an ACC game this season.

* Blossomgame led all players with 13 rebounds, tying Sidy Djitte and Landry Nnoko for the most by a Tiger in a game this season.

* Jordan Roper scored 16 points, all in the second half. It was his highest point total since scoring 18 in a win over Miami on January 16.

* Avry Holmes finished with 17 points, his highest total in an ACC game.

* Holmes made three shots from three-point range, his highest total since the Syracuse game on January 5.

* Donte Grantham made a career-high nine free throws Tuesday.

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