RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Chris Paul kept Manhattan from pulling off
The freshman point guard had 29 points, eight rebounds and six
assists Saturday to lift Wake Forest past the Jaspers 84-80 in the
second round of the East Rutherford Regional.
Paul went 10-for-14 from the floor and 8-for-9 from the line for
the fourth-seeded Demon Deacons (21-9), who made it through the
NCAA Tournament's opening weekend for the first time in eight
years. Wake Forest will face the Saint Joseph's in the third round.
Manhattan was the toast of the Big Apple after its upset of the
Gators, with former New York Mayor and Manhattan graduate Rudy
Giuliani calling to congratulate coach Bobby Gonzalez.
But the unflappable Paul wouldn't let the Jaspers repeat their
first-round magic, leaving No. 12 seed Pacific as the lowest-seeded
team left in the tournament.
The Jaspers twice closed the gap to two in the final two
minutes, only to see Paul have the answer.
After Jason Benton's stickback cut the deficit to two, Paul
banked in a drive over Kenny Minor for an 82-78 lead with 1:25 to
play. Paul sealed it by finding Trent Strickland alone under the
basket for a slam and an 84-80 lead with 11.2 seconds left.
The Demon Deacons hadn't made it through the first two rounds
since Tim Duncan led them to the round of eight in 1996. Wake
Forest missed the tournament from 1998-2000 and had three early
exits after that in a period coach Skip Prosser jokingly called
"ST": Since Tim.
That era had included two straight second-round losses,
including last year's loss as a No. 2 seed to Auburn.
But Paul -- who had 22 points and seven assists in the
first-round win against Virginia Commonwealth -- is writing his own
history. He also had three steals and two blocks with just one
turnover in 38 minutes Saturday.
He was dynamic from the start, scoring 16 points on 6-for-7
shooting in the first half to help the Demon Deacons to a 48-35
lead at the break.
The Jaspers got back into the game with a full-court press,
double-teamming Paul to force someone else to handle the ball.
Jason Wingate drained a 3-pointer after a turnover in the backcourt
to make it 50-46 early in the second half.
But Paul continually turned away runs by the Jaspers, almost
single-handedly carrying Wake Forest.
With his team clinging to a 73-69 lead, Paul scored on a drive
and drew a foul on Wingate. He completed the three-point play for
the 76-69 lead with 5:42 left.
He penetrated and found Jamaal Levy for a layup on the right
side and a 78-71 lead with 4:35 to play. Flores hit a 3 on the next
possession, but Paul answered with two free throws for an 80-74
lead with 3:28 left.