Harris leads Wake romp against Hokies
WINSTON-SALEM — C.J. Harris had a simple request of his Wake Forest teammates before Sunday’s game against Virginia Tech.
Harris then did his part, tying his career high with 29 points as the Demon Deacons closed out their Atlantic Coast Conference regular season with a 90-79 victory over the Hokies.
Devin Thomas added 17 points, Arnaud William Adala Moto had 16 and Codi Miller-McIntyre 10 for Wake Forest (13-17, 6-12), who led by as many as 24 points in the second half en route to snapping a three-game losing streak.
“(Head coach Jeff Bzdelik) asked me how today could be a happy day,” said Harris, a native of Winston-Salem. “All I could say is ‘by us winning.’
“We were just clicking on all cylinders today, on both offense and defense. This was definitely one of our best games of the season.”
Harris, playing his final home game for Wake Forest, went 8 of 14 from the field — including a perfect 6 of 6 on 3-pointers — and 7 of 9 on the free throw line to equal his career high, set two months ago against Boston College.
“He’s a tough matchup for us,” Virginia Tech head coach James Johnson said of Harris. “He’s been that way against us all year long. He got off to a great start. As good a player as he is, once he gets going, he’s tough to stop. We weren’t able to contain him.
“But you have to give Wake Forest credit — they came out ready to play. They got our big guys in foul trouble early on, and we were never able to respond and dig ourselves out of that hole.”
The Demon Deacons shot 59.2 percent from the field (29 of 49), their best showing against an ACC opponent and second best overall this season. They tied a season high with nine 3-pointers and had a season-best 21 assists.
“When we’re operating on all cylinders, we can play with any team in the country,” Bzdelik said. “We’ve had our moments ... but this was definitely our best game offensively, start to finish.”
That, and the Demon Deacons’ scoring balance, more than offset a career-high-tying 35-point game from Virginia Tech’s Erick Green.
Green, the nation’s leading scorer at 25.0 points per game, was 9 of 18 from the field (including three 3-pointers) and 14 of 18 from the line to tie his career best, set Jan. 24 against Virginia.
“We knew that he’d get his points,” Bzdelik said. “He’s just a great, great player. We wanted to make sure that others did not have all-star nights.
“The guys responded with their effort today. It was a great team effort, and a great will to win.”
Marquis Rankin added 15 points and Jarell Eddie had 13 for the Hokies, who shot 49.1 percent (28 of 57) in losing their second straight and finishing last in the league standings.
Ahead 41-27 at the half, Wake Forest pushed its lead past the 20-point mark early in the second half.
The Demon Deacons then took their biggest lead with less than eight minutes remaining, going up 80-56 on Thomas’ layup with 7:57 left.
Wake Forest dominated the first half, shooting 60.9 percent (14 of 23) from the field, including 5 of 9 on 3-pointers, and hitting 8 of 12 free throws. The Demon Deacons also outrebounded the Hokies 17-14 and led by as many as 16 points.
Wake Forest opened the half with a 9-0 run in the first 21/2 minutes and built their first double-digit lead by the 16-minute mark behind Harris (12 points, including four 3-pointers), Moto (11 points) and Thomas (10 points).
“We were doing a good job of moving the ball,” Harris said. “We were getting wide-open shots. When we move the ball and get those wide-open shots, we’re a much better team.”
The Demon Deacons took their biggest lead of the half, 38-22, on Chase Fischer’s 3-pointer from the corner with 2:10 remaining.
Virginia Tech then made its closest run since the opening minutes, with Eddie’s 3-pointer and a Green runner pulling the Hokies within 38-27 with 1:31 left. But Thomas’ layup and a Miller-McIntyre free throw put Wake Forest up by 14 at the end of the half.