Wake Forest, Clemson playing well entering ACC opener


Wake Forest and Clemson both sense a possibility for bigger things ahead entering Atlantic Coast Conference play.

The Demon Deacons (7-1) and Tigers (6-2) meet Friday night in Clemson, S.C., with both teams looking to build off thrilling outcomes earlier this week.

Winning road games has been troublesome for Wake Forest in recent seasons, but the Demon Deacons might be onto something as they’ll try to pull that off in consecutive games after winning 78-75 Tuesday night at Wisconsin.

“To win on the road, you have to get off to a great start,” Wake Forest coach Steve Forbes said.

Clemson meanwhile managed a double-overtime 101-94 home victory against Penn State on Tuesday night, aided by PJ Hall’s 22 points in his first starting role of the season.

“It was great to see PJ play the way that we know he can,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said, noting the forward’s ongoing recovery from an injury last season and an offseason setback. “He’s still not all the way back. … There are just times we got to get him out (of the game).”

In general, Hall has been limited to around 20 minutes, so his durability could be a factor in this ACC opener.

Wake Forest has won seven of its first eight games for the second season in a row. Another transfer has made a big impact for the Demon Deacons.

Tyree Appleby, a former Cleveland State and Florida player, makes his ACC debut three nights after posting a season-high 32 points at Wisconsin.

“Get everybody going and don’t force too many shots,” Appleby said of the key to his success. “I think my teammates set me up in some great positions.”

Appleby has been a good fit for Wake Forest.

“He plays to his strengths,” Forbes said. “Credit to him for always playing in attack mode.”

Clemson played three games in five days, ending with the Penn State game. The stretch began with a three-point loss to nationally ranked Iowa and an eight-point victory against California.

“It’s hard to get better because we’re not working on some of the things we need to work on,” Brownell said of the lack of practice time.

–Field Level Media

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