WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) -- With Wake Forest's top big man in
foul trouble, Justin Gray told his teammates he'd take care of
"You can hop on my back," Gray said. "I'm going to carry
Did he ever.
The senior scored a career-high 37 points, including six free
throws in the final 28 seconds, to lead No. 22 Wake Forest past
Wisconsin 91-88 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday night.
Kyle Visser added all of his 13 points and five assists after
halftime for the Demon Deacons (6-1), who led by 10 in the second
half but had to hold on for their 21st straight home win. Wake
Forest has won 51 of 52 home games against non-conference
opponents, and improved to 3-0 against the Badgers (4-1) in the
seventh annual event.
Gray's 37 points tied the event record set by Clemson's Will
Solomon against Penn State in 1999. It surpassed his previous high
of 31 points, set twice, and tied the Joel Coliseum record set by
Virginia's Bryant Stith in 1990 and matched by Florida State's Ron
Hale in 2000.
"I just wanted to have great energy," Gray said. "I think I
play better when I'm emotional, yelling at the crowd and getting
the fans into the game. I think anybody plays better when they do
that. I felt like the team fell right into it."
The Demon Deacons needed every one of his points to beat the
Badgers, who kept fighting to cut a late nine-point deficit to
89-88 on Kammron Taylor's 3-pointer with 5 seconds to go. Gray then
made his final two free throws, and Taylor missed a long 3 at the
buzzer that would have tied it.
Gray was unstoppable all night, hitting 11 of 20 shots and
knocking down all 13 free throws in 37 minutes. At least three
Badgers tried guarding him, but Gray kept getting free off screens
and driving past defenders for floaters that found the bottom of
"He went left, he went right, he pulled up, he hit some 3s,"
Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. "He got his points in different
Gray had struggled in stints at point guard as Wake Forest tried
to replace All-American Chris Paul, committing too many turnovers
and at times sacrificing too many of his own shots for a team that
relies on his offense. But with coach Skip Prosser playing freshman
Harvey Hale more recently at the point, Gray displayed the shooting
form that made him a two-time all-ACC performer as an off guard.
"He has been maligned a bit," Prosser said. "He's a big-time
player. He certainly made shots when he had to make shots,
especially his free throws."
Gray got plenty of help from Visser, a 6-foot-11 junior who
turned in a strong second half. That was important because Eric
Williams, a 6-9 senior, picked up his fourth foul soon after the
break. Williams -- whistled for his fourth on a double-technical
after getting tangled in the lane with Michael Flowers with 17:47
left -- finished with 17 points.
Tucker scored only four points and sustained an unspecified nose
injury in the first half. He came out of the break wearing a
protective mask, but soon took it off and showed no ill effects in
leading the Badgers back in a physical game that came down to the
Wisconsin fought back to take a 62-60 lead on a pair of free
throws by Jason Chappell with 9:21 left. Williams answered with a
turnaround shot to tie it, and combined with Visser to score the
team's next 11 points.
After hitting two free throws, Visser put the Demon Deacons
ahead to stay, scoring on a reverse-layup putback of Gray's miss
and making a layup off a feed from Gray on consecutive possessions
for a 68-64 lead with 7:52 left.
The Demon Deacons increased the margin to 79-70 on free throws
from Trent Strickland with 3:54 left and appeared to have the game
in hand. But the Badgers kept pushing the ball upcourt and scoring
at the other end, clawing to 83-80 on a score from Tucker with 41.5
The Demon Deacons went 8-for-8 at the line in the final 28
seconds to seal it, with Gray hitting six of those. At the other
end, the Badgers got a double-pump 3-pointer from Tucker and a long
3 from Taylor to close to within a point with 5 seconds left.
After Gray's final two free throws, Taylor's long 3 at the horn
bounced off the rim.
"They got off to a quick start, and we were playing from behind
the whole game," Butch said. "We made a couple of comebacks to
get back in it, but it's frustrating because we were in the game."