Pursuing ‘superpower,’ No. 19 Clemson takes on Wake

Ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 poll for the first time in two years, No. 19 Clemson will aim to continue its unbeaten run in Atlantic Coast Conference play when it visits Wake Forest on Tuesday night in Winston-Salem, N.C.

The Tigers (15-3, 7-0 ACC) sit atop the ACC standings and are off to their best start ever in the conference. Clemson is ranked this week after posting a 72-64 home win over then-No. 24 Duke on Saturday for its seventh straight win and its 11th victory in the past 12 games.

PJ Hall led the Tigers with 26 points against the Blue Devils. It was the first time this season that both of Clemson’s top two scorers — Hunter Tyson and Chase Hunter — failed to score in double digits. Still, the Tigers won.

A key to their victory was shooting 83.3 percent from the free-throw line and 45.8 percent from the floor, and outscoring Duke 13-4 in points off turnovers.

“I talk to my guys about — if you’re going to be good, you’ve got to have a superpower,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said after the win, the 400th of his career. “Maybe it’s defense, shooting, rebounding — hopefully it’s multiple things if you’re really good. And I think our superpower is our camaraderie and our togetherness.”

The Tigers might even be better on defense than Brownell thinks. They’re allowing opponents to shoot just 39.4 percent from the floor, which is 27th-best in the nation.

Clemson also does a decent job of taking care of the ball on the other end. Opponents steal the ball from Clemson just an average of 5.1 times per game, one of the lowest marks in the country.

“We are a better program than people have given us credit for,” Brownell said. “We are fifth in wins in the ACC in the last five and a half years. That’s pretty good.”

Entering the matchup with Clemson, Wake Forest (13-5, 5-2) has won three straight games and is 9-0 at home this season. In the past two seasons, Wake is 27-2 at home.

Most recently, Wake won 85-63 at Boston College on Saturday. Andrew Carr and Cameron Hildreth combined for 41 points and four steals to lead the Demon Deacons, and Carr had 13 rebounds. Tyree Appleby added 17 points and seven assists.

The Demon Deacons shot 52.3 percent from the floor and scored 23 points off 15 Eagles turnovers.

“I thought this was our best all-around game of the year,” Wake Forest coach Steve Forbes said. “Especially for being on the road. From the get-go, we played really well, had a lot of energy.”

Carr was named ACC Player of the Week on Monday. In his past two games — wins over Boston College and Florida State — he averaged 21.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game. For the season, the 6-foot-10 transfer from Delaware is averaging 11.6 points and 5.7 rebounds per game while shooting 50 percent from the floor.

Carr is one of six transfers on Wake’s roster this season.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. … I think you have to do a lot of background checks (on transfers),” Forbes said Monday. “It takes a little bit of luck sometimes, too.”

–Field Level Media