Clemson Overcomes Poor Free-Throw Stretch to Down Wake Forest
CLEMSON — Coming off a loss at N.C. State in which Clemson shot 9-of-23 from the foul line, the basket still looked like it had a lid on it for most of Tuesday night’s game against Wake Forest.
The Tigers made just one of their first 10 free throws before finally drilling some late to hold off the Demon Deacons 71-68 at Littlejohn Coliseum.
“We’ve got to do better if we’re going to win these games,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. “It puts too much pressure on you so hopefully our guys will make a few. We shoot them in practice but it’s different in a game so now you’ve got to just get up there and knock them down.”
Clemson ended up shooting 38.9 percent from the line, which is still well below their average of 70.8 percent coming into the game.
Six of the Tigers’ seven makes came in the second half. All of those came in the final 43 seconds of the game. And Clemson still won, despite trailing by as many as 10 points in the first half.
“You can’t focus on one part of the game,” said Clemson point guard Clyde Trapp, who made 2-of-7 from the line. “You can’t lose focus of the game plan just because you’re not shooting free throws well or the team’s not shooting free throws well. At the end of the day, you’ve got to get back in the gym and practice our free throws.”
Clemson (10-8, 4-4 ACC) was able to overcome one of the most important aspects of the game, especially when coming from behind.
And it was as weird a box score as the play on the court.
Clemson’s best scorer, Aamir Simms, had just seven points on 2-of-7 shooting from the field. He was saddled with foul trouble at times and played 29 minutes.
Wake Forest (9-9, 2-6) had three scorers in double figures: Andrien White (22), Olivier Sarr (16) and Brandon Childress (14).
Clemson had one: Hunter Tyson (21). That was his career high in points.
“We’ve had several comeback wins now where we were down double figures and we found a way to hang in there and find a way to win,” Brownell said.
The Tigers dominated the paint, outscoring Wake 30-16, but the Deacs outrebounded Clemson 38-32.
Danny Manning’s squad shot 73 percent from the free-throw line, but Wake made just 7 of 30 from behind the arc.
“I thought Wake played better than us in the first half,” said Brownell, whose team didn’t make a field goal the final 3:07. “We didn’t play great. Some of that is a credit to them. They came in and were aggressive and played well. I thought we played a really good second half. I’ll give our guys credit.”