The last time Clemson won at Wake Forest, former Demon Deacons great Tim Duncan was a 14-year-old living in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
To end a 22-year winless drought in Winston-Salem — and a string of close-game failures — Clemson made end-game situations a non-issue by shooting a season-best 58.2 percent in a 78-58 win Saturday.
Clemson (12-12, 4-6 ACC) recorded its first win at Lawrence-Joel Coliseum since the arena’s inaugural season in 1989-90 thanks to easy transition opportunities and patient play in its half-court offense.
Tanner Smith scored a game-high 20, beginning 8-of-8 from the field, and Wake Forest (11-14, 2-9) lost its sixth straight game.
“Making shots always helps,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. “Tanner made those 3s and we had some transition baskets. We just played better. … We had one of those nights where we shot the ball well, and that makes everything a lot easier.”
Brownell said Clemson was more patient in its half-court offense which led to better shot opportunities. Brownell felt his team had been rushing its offense, and Clemson made 8-of-18 3s Saturday after making 9-of-37 3s in losses at Virginia Tech and Maryland.
“The big thing is just getting good shots,” guard Andre Young said.
Milton Jennings made his first start since serving a two-game academic suspension and produced another quality performance. After scoring 11 points in the second half of the Maryland loss Tuesday, Jennings scored 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting and added five rebounds.
“He’s played well,” Brownell said. “He made a big shot today. I thought his activity was good on both ends.”
Freshman Devin Coleman also got in on the offensive efficiency scoring nine points. He entered with two field goals on the season.
The Clemson offense was jump-started by the defense as Clemson outscored Wake 10-2 in fast break points and 21-12 off of turnovers. Clemson held Wake to 37 percent shooting for the game. Clemson led 42-36 at the half and quickly built its lead in the second half eliminating any possible late-game drama.
“This can be big for our confidence,” Coleman said.