CLEMSON, S.C. — It’s hard to stay perfect, especially in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Clemson found that out the hard way Tuesday night, as Wake Forest ended the 19th-ranked Tigers’ best start in the 70-year history of the ACC with an 87-77 victory at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Clemson won its first seven league games to start the conference season and won 11 ACC regular season games dating back to last year. Coincidentally, the Tigers beat Wake Forest at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson on February 23, 2022, to start its school-record 11-game ACC win streak.
The Tigers (15-4, 7-1 ACC) also saw their seven-game overall win streak come to an end. The last time Clemson lost a game was on December 10, 2022, to Loyola Chicago.
Florida transfer Tyree Appleby led Wake Forest, and all scorers, with 24 points and seven assists. He connected on 6-of-14 shots and was 10-for-14 from the foul line. As a team, Wake Forest shot 46 percent from the field and was 9-for-26 from behind the arc.
Clemson got 22 points and nine rebounds from PJ Hall, while Hunter Tyson had 19 points and 14 rebounds to record his 10th double-double of the season. The Tigers shot 42 percent from the field and was 8-for-27 from downtown.
The Demon Deacons (14-5, 6-2 ACC) led by as many as 15 points in the second half, 57-42, with 17:02 to play. But the Tigers dwindled the lead to down to six points on a couple of occasions, but they could not get any closer.
Besides Appleby’s 24 points, Wake also got 18 points from Andrew Carr, and 17 points from Cameron Hildreth and Damari Monsanto. Carr also grabbed 11 rebounds, while Hildreth had 10.
The Tigers got 16 points from Brevin Galloway and 10 points from freshman Chauncey Wiggins, who was 3-for-5 from three-point range.
Clemson could not stop the Demon Deacons in the first half, either. Wake made 15-of-30 shots in the opening 20-minutes. The Deacons outrebound the Tigers 24-15 and had a 10-2 advantage in second-chance points.
Wake Forest led 48-38 at the break.
Stat of the game: Wake Forest shot 19 more free throws than Clemson. Though the Demon Deacons were just 22-of-33 (67 percent) from the charity stripe, they still made nine more free throws than Clemson, who was 13-of-14 (93 percent) from the foul line.
Injury update: Point Guard Chase Hunter missed the game due to an ankle injury suffered in last Saturday’s win over Duke. Josh Beadle started in Hunter’s place. Guard Alex Hemenway missed his seventh straight game due to a foot injury.
Player of the Game: For a second straight game, Hall scored 20-plus points, this time dropping in 22 points on 7-of-16 shooting. He was also a perfect 7-for-7 from the foul line and grabbed nine rebounds in a losing effort.
Key Moment: Trailing 80-73, Clemson got Wake Forest’s Damari Monsanto to miss a three-point attempt from the right corner with 1:04 to play. However, the Tigers could not come up with the rebound, as Wake’s Cameron Hildreth instead grabbed the loose ball. Clemson ended up fouling Appleby, who made both free throws for an 82-73 lead with 54 seconds to play.
Up next: Clemson will play host to Virginia Tech at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson on Saturday. Tip is set for 6 p.m.