Clemson dominates 2nd half to win at Wake Forest 76-62
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) Clemson spent the first 20 minutes bumbling its way to its worst offensive output in any half all season.
In the next, the attacking Tigers played with enough energy to turn in their best offensive output in six years under coach Brad Brownell.
Jaron Blossomgame had 22 points and 13 rebounds to help Clemson beat Wake Forest 76-62 on Tuesday night, earning a second road Atlantic Coast Conference win to keep the Tigers near the top of the league standings.
Jordan Roper scored all 16 of his points after halftime for the Tigers (14-8, 7-3 ACC), who went from scoring just 20 points in the first 20 minutes to scoring 56 after halftime in what Brownell said was ''about as good as we could play.''
''I certainly didn't go in (at halftime) and encourage them to continue to play the way they were playing,'' Brownell said. ''We had some direct conversation that was good. But they understood. They knew it. We've done this before and needed to play better, just more inspired.''
After managing just two baskets in the last 15 minutes before halftime, Clemson shot 55 percent and made 21 of 23 free throws in the second half. It was the most points in any half in 185 games under Brownell, while the 20 points in the first half were a season low for any half.
''Guys were playing timid in the first half,'' Blossomgame said. ''Guys didn't want to attack. ... In the second half, guys just realized we can't throw away an opportunity like this.''
Blossomgame got plenty of help from Roper and Avry Holmes, both of whom provided some scoring punch after halftime to get the Tigers rolling despite foul trouble to big men Landry Nnoko and Sidy Djitte. The Tigers trailed 28-20 at halftime, but scored the first 11 points after the break in a sign they were ready to roll.
Bryant Crawford had 13 points for the Demon Deacons (10-12, 1-9), who shot 42 percent and missed 10 free throws - each looming larger as the Tigers stretched out their lead in the final 9 1/2 minutes.
It was Wake Forest's seventh straight loss, and second-year coach Danny Manning didn't emerge from the locker room for more than 30 minutes afterward.
''Nobody cares about our pain,'' Manning said. ''Nobody cares what we're feeling. We've got to change it ourselves. That's what I told them.''
Clemson: Holmes finished with 13 of his 17 points after halftime. ... The Tigers made 26 of 30 free throws for the game. ... The Tigers came in with a 2-19 record against the Demon Deacons in Joel Coliseum.
Wake Forest: Devin Thomas had 12 points. ... The Demon Deacons made 13 of 23 free throws. ... Wake Forest was going for its 100th all-time win against Clemson.
The Tigers continued their surprising ACC run by moving into sole possession of third place behind No. 2 North Carolina (19-3, 8-1) and No. 19 Louisville (18-4, 7-2).
''We're in a position where we're making something happen - we're doing something special,'' Roper said. ''So we have to play with more excitement and energy. That was the (halftime) message that Coach Brownell gave us.''
The Demon Deacons' last four losses had come against ranked teams, including the Demon Deacons' blown seven-point lead in the final 30 seconds against then-No. 11 Virginia. Their schedule is ranked as the toughest in the country by ESPN, KenPom and Sagarin.
''It's up to us to get through this as a team,'' sophomore Mitchell Wilbekin said.
Clemson visits Virginia Tech on Saturday.
Wake Forest hosts Florida State on Saturday.
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