CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) -- Justin Gray remembered his coach's words as
he lined up two critical 3-pointers.
Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser "always talks about people
taking cold-blood shots," Gray said Thursday night. "We ran two
good plays and executed them well."
They both finished just like Prosser and the Demon Deacons hoped
-- Gray swishing long 3s and ending his team's two-game losing
Gray had a career-high 29 points as No. 20 Wake Forest defeated
Wake Forest has had a rough few weeks, losing six of their past
eight coming into Littlejohn Coliseum after rising to No. 4 with an
11-0 start. Gray's outside shooting, though, got Wake Forest back
"We had forgotten how to win," Prosser said. "We forgot how
fun it is to win."
The Deacons (14-6, 5-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) beat the
Tigers (9-12, 2-8) for the 11th time in 12 meetings.
Gray had 16 points in the first half, 12 of them coming in the
last 10 minutes as the Deacons built a 32-25 lead. Then when the
Tigers cut a 12-point deficit to 51-48 with 10:31 to go, Gray
struck for back-to-back 3-pointers to make things a bit more
comfortable for Wake Forest.
Clemson could not recover. By the time Gray stole a pass and got
an uncontested layup less than four minutes later, Wake Forest was
ahead 67-50 and well in control.
Gray's point total broke his mark of 27 set last month in a loss
Despite the ease they showed in winning this one, things get
considerably harder for the Deacons their next three games -- home
games with No. 13 Cincinnati and No. 1 Duke, then a road trip to
No. 15 Georgia Tech.
Gray and his teammates knew how important it was to find success
in this one.
"We couldn't let up," Gray said. "It was a nationally
televised game and the (NCAA tournament) committee's watching.
Right now, this is a big win for us. I hope they realize that
because we do."
Olu Babalola led Clemson with a career-high 22 points. Sharrod
Ford, the Tigers' leading scorer at 12 points a game coming in, was
never a factor after picking up his third and fourth fouls less
than a minute into the second half. He fouled out of the game with
The Tigers have lost six of their past seven. And this one was
just one more time that Clemson first-year coach Oliver Purnell has
watched his team close in on a league opponent yet fail down the
He says his team may have expended too much energy chopping the
lead down to pull ahead. But Purnell was disappointed at how open
Gray looked on both his clutch second-half 3s.
"You can't have Gray ... who's on fire, take those 3s,"
Wake Forest made just three of its first 12 shots while Clemson
went a stretch of 7:07 of the first half without scoring. Once Gray
found his touch, Wake Forest heated up.
The game was slowed by 57 fouls and 69 free throws. Wake
Forest's backcourt of Gray and Paul combined to go 20 of 22 from
the foul line.
Clemson, meanwhile, made just 17 of its 34 free throws.
Wake Forest was without Trent Strickland, a backup guard who did
not travel to the game because of one-game disciplinary suspension,
according to a team spokesman. After the game Prosser said he
expected Strickland, who's averaged nearly eight points and four
rebounds this season, at practice Friday.
Prosser said he'd see how things went before deciding if
Strickland would play against Cincinnati on Saturday.