It was O'Kelley, a sophomore, and several freshmen who made the biggest shots down the stretch as the visiting Demon Deacons outplayed senior-loaded Clemson, 64-61, yesterday in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
O'Kelley hit four three-pointers, including one that turned into a four-point play, after halftime. And Craig Dawson, one of four freshmen on the floor in crunch time, hit four free throws in the last eight seconds to seal the victory for Wake (11-4, 2-1).
"I had total confidence in my team. That's one thing, I think, where we're really growing," said O'Kelley, in his second season.
O'Kelley led Wake Forest out front with his long-range shooting, then had to watch a wild final minute on the bench after he fouled out.
What he saw was freshman Josh Shoemaker hit one of two foul shots, then Dawson hit four straight. "Maybe it was good that I fouled out because it showed those other guys they can come in perform like that," he said.
"It was a little scary when he went to the sidelines, but we believe in ourselves and each other," said Ervin Murray, a freshman who had 11 points.
The Tigers (12-4, 1-2) start four seniors and bring another off the bench. And Clemson, ranked all season, has used that leadership to win games when talent wouldn't.
"We just didn't do what we had to. They executed and we didn't," said Terrell McIntyre, who scored a game-high 24.
It was the type of game you'd want experienced players to close out. But it was the youngsters who made the biggest impact, scoring points on eight of their final nine possessions.
"I'd say that's pretty efficient. Maybe these guys are coming of age," Wake Forest coach Dave Odom said.
O'Kelley's revival turned the game. He was 1-for-6 in the opening half, but heated up after the break.
O'Kelley's first two threes got the lead back. His third came as he made a shot while Clemson's Johnny Miller fouled him.
O'Kelley's free throw put the Deacons ahead 38-33 with 12: 18 to go. Then the game turned crazy.
Wake Forest never led by more than five points down the stretch and looked ready to fold when O'Kelley and Darius Songaila, the team's top two scorers, fouled out in the last minute.
Murray hit a three-pointer, Wake's fifth of the half, after Clemson's Andrius Jurkunas cut the lead to 52-50 with a long basket.
Songaila, another first-year player, converted a pass from O'Kelleyfor a 59-54 lead with 1: 17 left.
And then Shoemaker and Dawson got their big shots.
Odom hasn't had many upperclassmen since his Rodney Rogers-Randy Childress-Tim Duncan run the past few years. "If I'm not used to this now, I'll never be," he said.
Clemson's Harold Jamison, who has averaged 17 points the past five games, got two early fouls and had only two baskets.
Florida State 75, Georgia Tech 56: Ron Hale led the visiting Seminoles (8-6, 2-1) with 24 points as they routed the Yellow Jackets (10-6, 1-3), whose seven-game winning streak ended.
Pub Date: 1/10/99