Redshirt senior guard Andrien White’s 17 second half points lifted Wake Forest (10-11, 3-8) over Clemson (11-10, 5-6) on Saturday night at the Joel, 56-44.
Both teams had quite ugly starts to the game offensively — the score was 12-12 with under six minutes to go in the first half. The teams were a combined 2-20 from long range in the first half. Wake Forest was able to take a 22-19 lead into the break.
Wake Forest took control of the game with a decisive 14-0 run to start the second half, which included nine points from White, two 3-pointers and one layup in transition. The excellent stretch gave the Deacs a 36-19 lead, one that Clemson wasn’t able to trim to less than eight the rest of the way.
“We really struggled against the zone today,” said Clemson Head Coach Brad Brownell. “They made a couple of adjustments since the last game.”
Saturday’s game was the second meeting between these squads this season. When Clemson hosted on Jan. 21, the Tigers rallied from down 10 to win 71-68.
In the previous match-up, Clemson shot 50% from the field and hit eight 3-pointers. On Saturday, Wake Forest was able to limit Clemson to 31% from the field and only four makes from downtown.
“We have to really work to score,” Brownwell said. “We don’t have some dynamic guy that can bail us out at the end of the clock. Our team is an execution team,and if we aren’t executing well and working together, we struggle.”
Wake Forest was able to find success in the second half behind that opening run, mostly behind White’s performance. The redshirt senior guard shot 0-5 from the field in the first half, but completely flipped a switch after the break, shooting 5-10 from the field, including 4-8 from distance.
“During halftime, I was a little down on myself,” said White. “But my teammates got on me, my coaches got on me, and they said to keep shooting the basketball, ‘cause that’s what I do.”
“He was gonna get cussed out if he didn’t shoot open shots,” said Wake Head Coach Danny Manning. “That’s what he’s out there to do … A couple times we were yelling at him in front of the bench in the second half ‘shoot it!’”
The redshirt senior guard has averaged 17.3 points over his last four games, compared to his season total average of 9.8. He also has hit three or more 3-pointers in five of his last six outings.
Junior guard Chaundee Brown returned for the Deacs after a seven-game absence, in which he was surely missed, as Wake Forest stumbled to a 1-6 record in those games. He was subbed into the contest at around the eight-minute mark to a loud ovation from the Demon Deacon fans.
Brown is easing back into action, as he only played 12 minutes in his first game back. Even though he only scored six points, his impact was still felt, as he notched a +/- of 12.
“I’m just happy to be back out there with my brothers again,” Brown said.
Senior guard Brandon Childress scored 10 points to go along with five rebounds and five assists. Junior center Olivier Sarr only scored seven but was able to grab 13 rebounds and block two shots. Saturday was just the second time in his last 16 games that Sarr wasn’t able to score in double figures.
Also, while attendance for the game was only 49% full, the 7,113-person turnout was the second highest of the season, and the crowd was as enthusiastic as its been all season.
“I thought our student section was outstanding,” Manning said. “Their energy level was really special, and we thank them for that.”
After facing off against #5 Louisville, Wake Forest will travel to play Syracuse on Saturday night and return home to face North Carolina on Tuesday.