7:00 PM ET, February 10, 2005
Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Winston-salem, North Carolina
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) -- About 24 hours after Duke joined North Carolina atop the Atlantic Coast Conference, Wake Forest made it a three-way tie.Did anyone notice?"I know a lot of attention goes to Duke and North Carolina," Demon Deacons coach Skip Prosser said. "We're like those guys chasing Butch and Sundance. They know who we are. They know we aren't going anywhere."Justin Gray scored 18 points, Eric Williams added 15 and No. 6 Wake Forest held off North Carolina State 86-75 on Thursday night.Sixth-man Taron Downey was 4-of-4 on 3-pointers and finished with 14 points to help the Demon Deacons (20-3, 8-2 ACC) stop a pair of rallies in the second half. Chris Paul had 13 points, eight assists and five steals."I did find my groove out there," Downey said. "Every good shooter wants to shoot that second one after he makes one, and after I made that second one, I had to shoot the third."The Wolfpack (13-10, 3-7) had won three straight against their oldest rival, but not even a sensational performance from Julius Hodge could stop their slide toward the NIT. Benched for showing up late for a team function -- the second time this season that's happened -- the reigning ACC player of the year made his first 10 shots and scored 27 points.Three times in the second half, Hodge jumped in the passing lane for steals and raced to the other end for dunks to bring N.C. State back from a 19-point deficit."I came into the game with the same attitude I always have," Hodge said. "It doesn't matter, because we still lost the game."Wake Forest had an answer for every comeback. When Ilian Evtimov's 3-pointer cut the lead to 58-51, Downey answered with one of his own, and Gray and Jamaal Levy combined for three free throws to increase the margin to 13.But Hodge and the Wolfpack weren't finished. He got inside for a layup, added his final coast-to-coast slam, then fed Jordan Collins for an open 3-pointer to make it 66-60. N.C. State had a chance to get even closer when Williams missed a dunk and had his putback blocked by Cedric Simmons.When Simmons tried a pass to Tony Bethel, Paul intercepted it and forced a foul from Bethel, then made two free throws for an eight-point lead. That was part of Wake Forest's 35-10 advantage at the line, and Bethel and Engin Atsur both fouled out trying to guard Paul."They're a heck of a basketball team," N.C. State coach Herb Sendek said. "Offensively, I don't see any component they don't have. And they don't let you off the hook when you foul them."The Deacons closed the first half with a 17-7 run to take a 16-point lead, and the margin was 19 early in the second half on a follow by Levy. The Wolfpack got back in it by turning up the defensive pressure, holding Wake Forest without a basket for nearly 6 minutes.With nearly everyone converting their free throws, the Deacons did enough to win for the fifth time in their past six games. They host Florida State on Saturday before traveling to Miami and to Duke next week."They're a good team, and there are no off nights in the ACC," Prosser said. "To have 20 wins at this point with our schedule is an accomplishment, but at the same time, our guys know we have a quick turnaround to Saturday."N.C. State is going the opposite way. After reaching as high as No. 12 in The Associated Press poll in December, the Wolfpack have lost four of five. They will complete a brutal stretch of road games Sunday at Georgia Tech, then finish out the schedule with four of their final five games at home."We just have to continue to play, stay together and work," Sendek said. "You never know what tomorrow brings."
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||28-50 (.560)||22-49 (.449)|
|3P Made-Attempted||9-22 (.409)||7-14 (.500)|
|FT Made-Attempted||10-12 (.833)||35-42 (.833)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||29 (0/0)||18 (0/0)|