CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) -- Justin Gray doesn't know what the big deal
is -- in his mind, he's always been as good of a shooter as he was
Gray made his first five 3-pointers and tied his career high of
31 points as Wake Forest (13-1, 2-0 Atlantic Coast
Conference) won its eighth in a row, beating Clemson 103-68.
Gray's coach, Skip Prosser, often chides his star junior that
he's never met a shot he didn't like. Gray agrees.
"Sometimes people say, 'Why are you shooting?' That's why,"
Gray said. "I'm thinking I'm hot all the time."
He certainly was early on at Littlejohn Coliseum.
"Didn't he have five 3s, I think, before the first TV
timeout?" backcourt partner Chris Paul said. "That's amazing."
Since losing their No. 1 ranking at Illinois on Dec. 1, the
Demon Deacons (No. 3 ESPN/USA Today; No. 4 AP) have averaged nearly 90 points. And Gray, their
leading scorer, is a big reason why.
Against the Tigers, Gray made his first five shots from behind
the arc to give Wake Forest a double-digit lead then helped
maintain it with a 6-of-6 performance from the foul line. Gray
matched his career best for points set against Florida State last
Eric Williams added 21 points, the second time this season that
Wake has had two players with more than 20 points.
Whenever Gray "plays the way he did tonight, it really helps
his teammates get into the game," Prosser said. "He really opens
things up for them."
Akin Akingbala led Clemson (9-5, 0-2) with 16 points, which tied
his career high set against Hampton in the season opener.
Gray nearly matched his career high with 25 points in the first
half. After Clemson ran out to a 5-0 lead, Gray began to silent the
large crowd with his long-range shooting.
His first two 3-pointers put the Demon Deacons ahead to stay.
Gray's swished a fourth 3-pointer with Sam Perry draped on him.
Then Gray finished his starting run with a wide-open 3-pointer 15
seconds later that led Clemson coach Oliver Purnell to call a
timeout -- presumably to ask, "Who's got Gray."
Gray's performance was part of a 22-4 run in the game's first 6
minutes that gave the Demon Deacons control.
Gray reached 31 points on a simple 8-foot jumper with 5:33
remaining that put Wake Forest ahead 87-59. He came out of the game
about 30 seconds later as the Demon Deacons went with four walk-ons
and sophomore center Kyle Visser to end their fifth straight
victory over the Tigers.
Gray wasn't concerned about missing out on a new personal mark.
"I knew they were going to try and push up on me whenever I caught
the ball in the second half, so we needed an inside presence,"
Gray said. "So we started the throwing the ball down to Big E
(Williams) and letting those guys do the work.
"That's the perfect game for us right there, man," Gray said.
Gray finished 10-of-19 from the field. Wake Forest hit the
century mark for the first time since its dramatic 119-114 triple
overtime victory at North Carolina on Dec. 20, 2003. And the
Deacons did it with only nine turnovers, tying their fewest this
"That's the best we've played in a while," Prosser said.
For Clemson, it was the worst its played at home in half a
century. The Tigers hadn't lost by this much in front of a home
crowd since losing 112-72 to North Carolina State on Dec. 14, 1954.
Sharrod Ford, Clemson's leading scorer coming in at almost 16
points a game, was 0-of-5 from the floor and scored six points on
"I told our guys that I was embarrassed and I hope that they
were because we just didn't do anything right tonight," Purnell
About the only drama after the opening minutes came in right
before halftime when Clemson's 6-foot-9 freshman, James Mays, lost
his right shoe near his basket and played without it for nearly 90
seconds while the fans roared.
After a security guard brought the shoe around to the Clemson
bench, Purnell lobbed it to his young forward to loud cheers.