WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) -- Chris Paul is a polite, mild-mannered
freshman off the court. That all changes once he gets the
basketball in his hands.
Paul was nearly perfect on Sunday, making all but four shots
while scoring a career-high 30 points to lead Wake Forest (No. 18 ESPN/USA Today; No. 20 AP) to
a 91-85 victory over (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today; No. 13 AP).
"He's polite, deferential and a good student," coach Skip
Prosser said. "But the best thing about him is between the lines,
he is a stone-cold killer. That's a great thing to have in a
Paul made his first six shots of the game to help the Demon
Deacons (15-6) beat the Bearcats (17-4) for the first time in six
He finished 10-of-14 from the field, made all three of his
3-point attempts and went 7-for-7 from the free throw line. He also
had a career-high seven rebounds and added four assists.
"Coach just told me to really be aggressive," he said. "And
he said in the second half, the way Cincinnati was playing defense
made it real open, so space the court out a little bit and he said
that would give us great chances to drive.
"That's what I did."
Paul's first miss didn't come until midway through the second
half when his shot was blocked, but he got the rebound and scored
on a putback. He later embarrassed the Bearcats defense by driving
untouched along the left baseline and easily scored on a layup to
give Wake Forest a 73-63 lead.
"He took the ball at the goal anytime he wanted it," coach Bob
Huggins said. "He destroyed us."
After the play, a disgusted Huggins briefly stared in disbelief
before calling a timeout to scream at his players. But it didn't
help as Cincinnati lost for the third time in its last five games.
Still, Huggins said all was not lost for the Bearcats.
"How many people in the country do you think would trade us at
17-4?" he asked. "To me it's rather amusing that there's this
notion that we're in dire straits. If we are down and out, I am not
sure why that is."
Huggins, who had missed two days of practice and did not join
the Bearcats until early Sunday morning because of fatigue and
flu-like symptoms, said after the game only that he was "OK" and
refused to discuss his illness.
The Bearcats pulled within six points several times late in the
game, but gave up big baskets at inopportune times. Huggins made
good on his promise to abandon the fullcourt press, leaving
Cincinnati surprisingly vulnerable both inside and outside.
After Cincinnati cut it to 80-74, Paul drove through the lane
and hung in the air until his defenders were out of the way for an
easy layup and foul. He made the free throw for an 83-74 lead.
And when the Bearcats had pulled to 83-77 with 3:53 to play,
they gave up an easy basket to Jamaal Levy and then a dunk by Trent
Huggins chalked the lapses up to Cincinnati losing its poise and
his players agreed.
"When we feel a little pressure, we let down," said Tony
Bobbitt, who led Cincinnati with 23 points. "Coach Hugs, his old
guys never did that. We didn't lay down, but we lost our poise a
But Cincinnati didn't quit, getting a 3-pointer from Bobbitt
with 15 seconds to play to cut it to 91-85. The Bearcats called a
timeout and finally pressed as Wake Forest tried to inbound the
ball, but the Deacons beat it and ran out the clock.
Cincinnati converted 12 early Wake Forest turnovers into a
12-point lead before the Demon Deacons switched strategy and made
an effort to drive the ball inside. Since the Bearcats had
abandoned the press, the layups came easy once Wake Forest began
"People don't come back from 12 down against Cincinnati and we
did," Gray said. "That's going to give us a lot of momentum for