CLEMSON, S.C. - During a three-day span, Clemson fans experienced the highs and lows of the Tigers' roller-coaster basketball season.
On Sunday, they stormed the court in celebration of the school's upset of then No. 1-ranked North Carolina.
Wednesday night, nobody would have known Clemson even stayed close with the Tar Heels after one of its worst performances of the year. The Tigers trailed by 32 points at halftime and were hammered by 24th-ranked Wake Forest 92-60 at Littlejohn Coliseum.
"We probably went from our worst to our finest to our worst," Clemson coach Larry Shyatt said. "No excuses. We were just simply guarded by a very tenacious team. What we faced on the ball, we could not run any of our patterns, and then when we chose to try, we just simply could not get by."
After being crisp and quick Sunday, the Tigers returned to their inconsistent ways Wednesday night. Early in the game, they seemed confused and had trouble executing basic perimeter screens.
With Clemson's sloppy first-half play, which consisted of 13 turnovers, Wake Forest led by as many 34 points and had sealed the win by halftime. It was the Demon Deacons' largest ACC road victory since beating Clemson 101-69 on Feb. 6, 1959.
Wake Forest coach Dave Odom's strategy of putting sophomore forward Josh Howard on Clemson's Will Solomon in the first half was key. Solomon, the ACC's leading scorer averaging 21.5 points per game, was 0-for-5 from the floor and was held scoreless in the first half.
"He has more discipline now defensively and offensively - but primarily defensively - than he did the first time he played," Odom said of Howard. "I asked him on Monday if he felt his game had moved to a point where he felt he could guard Solomon. (Howard) said he'd like that challenge."
Clemson had seven turnovers before it scored its first points of the game - two free throws from Adam Allenspach. The Tigers, who had just seven turnovers in their 75-65 victory over then top-ranked North Carolina on Sunday, matched that total at the 13:08 mark in the first half.
Clemson started the game 0-for-12 from the floor and shot a paltry 14 percent (3-of-22) from the field during the first half.
"We got a gut check tonight," freshman forward Chris Hobbs said. "We learned that by beating a great team, you've got to be ready the next night because it's an ACC team, and you've got to beready to play."
About the only action for Clemson fans in the first half came with 10:29 left. Game officials whistled the Tiger bench for a technical foul, fuming Shyatt, who tossed a cup of water behind the bench out of frustration. That prompted Clemson students to chant "L-A-R-R-Y, L-A-R-R-Y."
Shyatt said at times he felt it would have been better on the team if he had have been ejected from the game.
"There was a part of me - I'm human like everybody else - where you want to be like the character in the movie Ghost and become invisible," Shyatt said. "But that's simply not the choice that a man or a woman in some type of leadership role should not take on, and I felt like I would be betraying the guys."
Reach Tim Morse at (706) 823-3216 or email@example.com.
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