WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) -- At least Wake Forest can enjoy its
final days as the nation's top-ranked team.
Jamaal Levy added a terrific all-around effort -- including 10
offensive rebounds to tie a school record -- for the Demon Deacons
(6-1), who will almost certainly fall from the No. 1 ranking next
But at least the Demon Deacons head into nine-day break for
final exams on a good note. They never trailed Saturday, shooting
53 percent and playing improved defense against the Spiders (3-2).
"We felt real aggressive. We felt real emotional," said
Williams, who also had seven rebounds and three blocks. "We played
with a lot of energy, a lot of passion.
"In the Illinois game, I didn't sense we played with emotional
energy. I think we were just playing basketball to play basketball.
Today we changed it."
They certainly needed this win after Wednesday's 91-73 loss to
the fifth-ranked Illini. In that game, Illinois shot 56 percent,
hit 11 3-pointers and led by as many as 32 points in the second
As if the Demon Deacons needed any help remembering the loss, a
group of vocal Richmond fans chanted "Illinois! Illinois!" at one
point in the first half.
But the Demon Deacons, who allowed the Illini to do just about
anything they wanted, played better defensively against Richmond.
The Spiders shot just 39 percent, including a 3-for-14 stretch
early in the second half that helped the Demon Deacons build a
Wake Forest had little trouble on offense, shooting 60 percent
in the second half and going 22-for-31 from the line.
Williams was key after the break, scoring 13 points on 4-for-5
shooting. The 6-foot-9 center is listed at 290 pounds on the
roster, but said he is down to about 265 and has worked to improve
his conditioning to play in the up-tempo attack.
"It is a good bet if we throw it in there to him, good things
are going to happen," coach Skip Prosser said. "He is a real load
on the offensive end of the floor."
Wake Forest got contributions throughout its lineup. Gray had 18
first-half points, while sixth man Taron Downey had 11 points and
Meanwhile, Levy, a wiry 6-9 senior, had eight points, six
assists, a steal and a block in 32 minutes. His 10 rebounds helped
the Demon Deacons to a 44-31 edge on the glass.
"It's almost impossible for everybody to score 10 points a
night," Levy said. "Somebody's got to step forward, play good
defense and try to get everybody on the same page. And that's what
I always try to do."
Though Wake Forest had no shortage of solid performances,
Richmond coach Jerry Wainwright -- a former Wake Forest assistant
from 1985-94 -- sounded most impressed by Levy.
"He can handle the ball and guard four positions, and he's
active," Wainright said. "Probably what I should ask the people
over here is what they feed them. I assume it's a high-sugar diet.
That cat never stops moving."
The Demon Deacons were their own worst enemy early, committing
eight turnovers in the first 10 minutes to help Richmond hang
around. Once they started protecting the ball, they gradually
increased their lead to as much as 23 points late in the game.
Leading 39-30 at the break, Wake Forest scored on its first
three possessions after halftime to push the lead to 15. Williams
was big in that spurt, hitting two free throws after being fouled
inside and throwing down a dunk.
Richmond got no closer than 10 points the rest of the way, and
Wake Forest turned the final minutes into a display of its
high-scoring transition offense -- including a slam from Williams
off a no-look feed from Chris Paul for an 82-61 lead with 4:07
"It was over with and we wanted to come in and play well,"
Gray said of the Illinois loss. "Toward the end of the game, I
think we did just that."
Jermaine Bucknor scored 14 points to lead the Spiders. Kevin
Steenberge, Richmond's leading scorer at 18 points per game,
managed just four points and was never a factor.