WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Dave Odom knows people likely snickered when he said his team was getting better the last 10 days. That time frame included losses to Davidson and Florida State.
But hard work in practice finally showed up Tuesday night as reserves Craig Dawson and Josh Shoemaker provided sparks down the stretch as Wake Forest broke a month-long offensive slump with a 79-63 victory over Clemson.
"It's a step," Odom said of the 16-point victory over the Tigers, who remained winless on the road. `It's a long way from saying, `We're back.' It's a long way from that. But it was an important step."
Wake Forest placed five players in double figures for the first time in a year, dating to a win over Clemson on Feb. 10, 1999.
"We've encouraged our kids, we've been demanding of our kids, yet at the same time we've been patient and understanding with our kids. That's the way we've got to go," Odom said when asked about a possible second-half run.
The Demon Deacons (13-10, 4-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) hit the 70-point mark for the first time since getting 84 against Ohio on Dec. 29 and improved to 9-0 this season when reaching that plateau.
Darius Songaila led Wake Forest, which had lost three straight and six of seven, with 16 points, but Dawson added 13 and Shoemaker 10 in limited action off the bench.
"Before the game we talked about having a little bit more fun and trying to relax," said Dawson, who was 8-for-10 from the foul line. "We were almost taking the game too seriously and trying not to make a mistake here or a mistake there. We said if you make a mistake let's just play through it."
The Tigers (8-15, 2-8) lost for the 10th straight time in Joel Coliseum. ACC-scoring leader Will Solomon led Clemson with 29 points.
After trailing by as many as 17 early in the second half, the Tigers went on a 10-2 run to close to 49-41 with 10:29 left. But Robert O'Kelley made three free throws after being fouled by Solomon beyond the arc and Dawson scored on a baseline jumper to give the Demon Deacons some breathing room.
"The 3-point foul on Will Solomon, there's no question that was the play of the game," said Clemson coach Larry Shyatt, whose team has now lost nine of 11. "I was blocked out on the call. (Will) did think he blocked the ball."
The Tigers never got closer than 11 the rest of the way. Shoemaker make sure of that, scoring on a 15-footer, a pair of foul shots and a breakaway dunk over a 34-second span for a 67-50 lead with 4:06 left.
The Wake Forest bench outscored the Tigers 34-11, and the Demon Deacons were 33-for-40 from the foul line.
Clemson was coming off a six-turnover effort against North Carolina on Sunday -- its lowest in almost two years -- but coughed it up 10 times in the first 12 minutes in a sloppy start.
In addition, Clemson managed just two field goals during that span as Wake Forest built a 12-point lead at 24-12.
A Solomon 3-pointer narrowed the Clemson deficit to seven, but the Demon Deacons closed the half with an 8-2 spurt to lead 34-21.
Songaila scored nine points or less in three of his last four games, but had 11 by halftime in 16 minutes as the Demon Deacons shot 54.5 percent.
No. 12 Florida -- 90
No. 11 Kentucky -- 73
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- No. 12 Florida validated its spot among the nation's elite, getting 11 points and 18 rebounds from Mike Miller in a wire-to-wire victory over No. 11 Kentucky.
It was the fourth straight win for Florida (18-4, 7-2 Southeastern Conference), which pulled into a three-way tie for first in the SEC East with Kentucky (17-6, 7-2) and No. 8 Tennessee.
Freshman Keith Bogans had 24 points for Kentucky and a Desmond Allison added 17.
Teddy Dupay led Florida's balanced scoring with 14 points.
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