Howard's long-range aerial show paces Wake

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) -- Wake Forest can finally start peeking

around the corner and think about finishing off what has become a

dream season.

Josh Howard had 29 points, including a career-best six

3-pointers, as the 12th-ranked Demon Deacons moved closer to their

first outright ACC title since 1962 with an 80-68 victory over

Clemson on Saturday.

"We told them about a week ago, `You've got three weeks to work

and you've got the rest of your life to remember,''' coach Skip

Prosser said. "'For the rest of your lives you'll remember you

were part of a group of guys that not a whole lot was expected of.

When you get out in the real world you will be able to point to

this experience. For the rest of your life no one should be able to

tell you you can't do something.'

"In my humble opinion, life lessons is what this is all

about,'' Prosser added. "Now it's down to one week to work.''

The Demon Deacons (21-4, 11-3), picked to finish sixth in the

Atlantic Coast Conference preseason poll, matched last year's win

total and pulled one game ahead of Duke and Maryland with one week

left in the regular season.

Howard scored 19 points in the first half and finished 10-for-16

from the field as the Demon Deacons have won nine of 10 conference

games. That's the best ACC run in the same season since the title

team 41 years ago.

"A great season, a great team,'' Clemson coach Larry Shyatt

said of the Demon Deacons. "At different times in different games

they have different lineups -- all of them being synonymous with


Wake Forest closes its regular season Wednesday against North

Carolina at home -- where it has won 16 straight -- and is at N.C.

State on Saturday. The Demon Deacons beat both teams earlier in the


Howard sprained his right ankle in the first half when he landed

on another player's foot, but he continued to play and logged 32


"It's a typical ankle sprain,'' Howard said before heading to

get treatment for the injury. "I'm not going to do what I did last

year and keep playing on it. I am going to take care of it


Meanwhile, the Tigers (15-10, 5-9) fell into a four-way tie for

fifth in the ACC with Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Virginia.

They missed 14 of their first 17 shots and went on a costly

five-minute scoring drought in the middle of the second half.

"It will be won on the court,'' Edward Scott said when asked

about breaking out of the log jam in the middle of the ACC. "We've

been in a lot of close games and this is a great opportunity for us

this coming week.''

Clemson has lost two straight after winning three consecutive

league games for the first time since 1996-97. Scott led the way

with 27 points, but the senior guard took 29 shots.

Clemson grabbed 23 offensive rebounds and tied a school record

with just six turnovers.

"It's sad we had to waste a couple of records when we lost the

game,'' Shyatt said. "I wanted our guys to believe they could come

in here and steal a game on the road and they did believe that, but

we missed too many shots.''

Wake Forest won despite being outscored 36-18 in the paint and

26-7 on fastbreak points.

"I'm still not sure how we won the game,'' Prosser said.

After falling behind by 14 points in the opening seconds of the

second half, Clemson closed to 44-42 as Chey Christie scored 12 of

his 18 points in the opening 3:32.

The Demon Deacons, one of the nation's best free throw shooting

teams at 76.5 percent, also allowed the Tigers to hang around by

missing 13 of their first 27 shots from the line.

However, a 12-0 run sealed it for Wake Forest as the Tigers

became unglued. Clemson missed eight straight shots and the front

end of a 1-and-1 and Shyatt picked up an ill-advised technical foul

that helped the Demon Deacons to a 60-45 lead with 7:58 left.

Howard had nearly twice as many points as Clemson in the opening

7:40 as he hit five of his first seven shots, including three

3-pointers as the Demon Deacons went up 18-6.

Less than three minutes later the lead reached 15 before the

Tigers closed to 26-20 with Howard on the bench resting. But

seconds after his return, Howard nailed his career-best fourth shot

behind the arc.

"I felt like the basket was a big old bucket or something,''

Howard said. "I've been working on my game, working on my shot the

whole year and it's finally paying off.''

Howard added a follow shot and a free throw as Wake Forest

closed the half with an 11-5 run for a 12-point lead.

Howard's fifth 3-pointer 2:41 into the second half was the 100th

of his career as Wake Forest beat Clemson for the 13th straight

time at Joel Coliseum.