ACC Basketball: Wake gets rousing home win
Associated PressWINSTON-SALEM— Wake Forest is doing its best to rebuild a homecourt advantage.
Travis McKie scored 15 points to help the Demon Deacons beat Florida State 71-46 on Saturday, snapping a four-game losing streak.
C.J. Harris added 14 for the Demon Deacons (11-12, 4-7 Atlantic Coast Conference), who led the entire afternoon on the way to matching their league win total for last season. They were in complete control almost from the tip, leading by 11 points in the first half before blowing the game open in a surprisingly easy finish.
Now they’re 4-1 at home in the ACC, with the only loss coming against Duke in a game that came down to the final minute. And if third-year coach Jeff Bzdelik is going to turn around the struggling program, it has to start here at Joel Coliseum.
“At home, honestly I feel like we’re a top 25 team in the nation,” said freshman Codi Miller-McIntyre, who also scored 14. “But we have to find some way to bring that energy from home to away.”
For now, though, the Demon Deacons can savor at least one clear sign of progress for a team that went 5-27 in league play over the past two seasons.
They shot the ball well. They dominated the boards. They played defense. Then they put away the Seminoles (13-10, 5-5).
“We focused on coming out and getting a good start,” Harris said. “We didn’t want a slow start. We grew up by keeping the pedal down and not letting up.”
The Demon Deacons finished with a 45-25 rebounding advantage, which led to a 19-1 edge in second-chance points and helped them shoot 49.1 percent (26 of 53) for the game. Wake Forest blew the game open with a 14-0 run that turned a 52-40 lead into a 26-point bulge with 2 minutes left.
Wake Forest’s only real hiccup was a 12-for-22 performance (55 percent) at the foul line.
Harris scored seven points during the 14-0 run that turned it into a blowout. He started it with a 3-pointer off a kickout from Devin Thomas, who had just hauled in one of the team’s 13 offensive rebounds.
Bzdelik was even able to end the game with walk-ons playing out the final seconds and his top players celebrating from the bench.
Wake Forest had lost six of seven coming in, with its last win being an 86-84 upset of North Carolina State here on Jan. 22. Three of the past four losses since had come on the road, where the Demon Deacons have compiled an ugly 1-21 record in league play since Bzdelik’s arrival.
Wake Forest had lost the past two games at Maryland and North Carolina by a combined 51 points.
“All we talked about was our pride, our confidence, our will, our desire and getting back to playing really good basketball,” Bzdelik said. “Simple as that.”
Not to be outdone, Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton offered his own simple assessment when asked what his Seminoles did right Saturday.
“We put our uniforms on right,” Hamilton said. “That’s about where it stopped.”
Michael Snaer and Okaro White each scored 13 for the Seminoles, who shot just 25 percent (6 of 24) after halftime and managed one field goal over a 9-minute span as the Demon Deacons pulled away.
Florida State, the reigning ACC tournament champion, shot 33 percent (14 of 43) for the game.
“If I was in Wake Forest’s shoes, I would’ve been disappointed that our team didn’t give them more of an effort, a challenge that would’ve helped them improve,” Hamilton said. “... I look at the stats, even though the stats are not very good from my standpoint, I think we probably played worse than the stats say.”
---- The Demon Deacons earned their first win against Florida State since February 2009 and held an ACC opponent to fewer than 50 points for the first time since an 87-48 win against the Seminoles eight years ago.
---- Florida State was coming off a 56-54 win at Georgia Tech on Snaer’s driving layup at the horn, the fifth last-second winning basket by the senior in the past two seasons. Snaer went 4-for-13 from the field in 36 minutes.
---- Wake Forest led 34-26 at halftime. Florida State got within six early in the second half before the Demon Deacons pushed the lead back up to double figures for the last 18 minutes.
---- “They busted a lead open on us, saw us bleeding and kept going,” Snaer said.