Clemson was predicted to finish 13th in the ACC before the season, but through 10 conference games the Tigers are tied for second in the league with Duke at 7-3.
Clemson enters Saturday’s game at Wake Forest ranked No. 20 and is looking to stay near the top of the ACC standings. The Tigers and Duke are both chasing first-place Virginia, the only undefeated team in the league at 10-0.
Clemson (18-4) is coming off a win against No. 19 North Carolina on Tuesday and will have won four of five games with a victory against the Demon Deacons. Wake Forest (9-13, 2-8) enters the contest 14th in the ACC at 2-8, but is coming off a win against Florida State earlier this week. Tigers coach Brad Brownell expects a tough game against a Wake Forest squad that had dropped seven consecutive games before topping the Seminoles.
“Coming off a good win, but now it’s on to Wake Forest, a team that had a great win (Wednesday) night against FSU. I thought they played very well. Great guard play,” Brownell told reporters earlier this week. “We’ve got to get our minds back where we need to be. I think we’ll be ready.”
The Tigers are hoping to get forward Mark Donnal back for the game after he was injured last Sunday against Georgia Tech.
Donnal missed Tuesday’s game against UNC but was able to go through a light practice on Friday, according to a Clemson official.
Whether or not Donnal is able to play, the Tigers will need their guards to continue to play well.
Marcquise Reed, Gabe DeVoe and Shelton Mitchell have carried the Tigers offensively since Donte Grantham was lost for the year with an injury. The three combined for 51 points against the Tar Heels and had 13 assists to only three turnovers.
The Tigers put up 82 points against North Carolina, and if Reed, DeVoe and Mitchell continue to protect the ball, Clemson’s offensive success should continue.
“The last two games, our turnover numbers have been down. Their assist numbers have been really high… certainly, that’s always gonna be important for this team,” Brownell said. “Moving forward, they’re gonna have to continue to do that.”
Reed has been Clemson’s closer, scoring the game-winning basket against Georgia Tech and hitting a 3-pointer late against North Carolina to give the Tigers the lead for good.
“There’s just some guys, and they’re usually offensive guys, that like taking big shots, like making big plays, want the ball. He, certainly, has made some big shots for us,” Brownell said. “I’ve, obviously, coached a few guys like that. Very talented scorers that play with a lot of confidence and want the ball. Those are important players, for sure, but it’s fun when those guys are playing well and playing with that kind of confidence, because it permeates through your team.”
Who: No. 20 Clemson (18-4, 7-3 ACC) at Wake Forest (9-13, 2-8)
When: 2 p.m. Saturday
Where: LJVM Coliseum, Wake Forest, N.C.
KenPom prediction: Clemson 73, Wake Forest 69
TV: RSN (Tom Werme, Dan Bonner)
Radio: 93.1 FM (Don Munson, Tim Bourret)
Series: Wake Forest leads 99-61
Streak: Clemson has won four in a row and nine out of 10.