Clemson Basketball: Tigers Top Wake Forest and Virginia

Kevin Thomas@K_Mart10Contributor IIFebruary 17, 2012

Rod Hall and Tanner Smith Celebrate the Tigers' Win over Virginia
Rod Hall and Tanner Smith Celebrate the Tigers' Win over Virginia

Clemson ended a 22-year winless drought at Wake Forest and picked up its first ACC road win of the season with a 78-58 victory this past Saturday.

The Tigers jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead, but the Demon Deacons came right back with a 9-2 run of their own. Clemson received a spark off the bench from freshman Devin Coleman against Wake, as he came in to score a career-high nine points, including a few highlight baskets.

Clemson closed the first half on an 8-0 run capped by a Devin Booker tip-in, just before the halftime buzzer that put the Tigers up 42-36 at the break.

The Tigers took control of the game for good right out of the gate to start the second half, going on a 17-5 run. Tanner Smith led the Tigers with 20 points, including 15 in the first half.

Milton Jennings added 15 points and Andre Young chipped in 12. Booker also had a solid game, scoring nine points and pulling down seven rebounds.

The Tigers had a tough test this past Tuesday night when they took on No. 22 Virginia in Littlejohn Coliseum. The first half of the game against the Cavaliers was rather uneventful, as the two teams played to 24-all tie at the end of the first half.

However, in the second half the Tigers turned up the heat. Smith drained a three-pointer, Coleman hit a pull-up jumper and Booker had back-to-back baskets on the inside to give Clemson a 33-30 lead that they would not relinquish.

The Tigers made 14-26 shots in the second half and played stellar defense as well. Clemson forced 18 Cavalier turnovers and held them to 3-16 shooting from three-point range.

Clemson also held Virginia’s top scorer Mike Scott to only 13 points, and Booker’s defense was the main reason.

“In the second half, I knew I had to limit his touches and limit his shot selections; I think I did a pretty good job,” Booker said.

Booker also had a big second half on the offensive end, scoring all 10 of his points in the final 20 minutes.

Freshman Rod Hall sealed the win for the Tigers. He followed a thunderous dunk off a long pass from Young with a steal and layup within the final minute.

Thanks to its solid second half defense, Clemson prevailed 60-48. The win moved Clemson to 13-12 on the season and 5-6 in ACC play.

Young and Smith had 13 points each to lead Clemson, while Booker scored 10 points and Coleman chipped in nine.

“It was a great team win,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. “I thought our guys really competed. When you play Virginia, they are so fundamentally sound and are in good position all the time, so your effort has to be supreme, and that was the case tonight — especially in the second half.”

Clemson takes the court again this Saturday as they travel to Chapel Hill, N.C., to take on No. 8 North Carolina in the Dean Dome. The game will tip at 4 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN.