College Basketball: Wake Forest 81, East Carolina 65
By Ronnie Gallagher
WINSTON-SALEM — Amid the hoopla of Wake Forest’s football trip to the Orange Bowl, the Demon Deacons sneaked in a basketball game on New Year’s Day.
Wake coach Skip Prosser hopes Anthony Gurley’s New Year’s resolution is to look for his shot more.
The freshman from Boston started 2007 off on the right foot, scoring 15 points as the Deacs rolled to an 81-65 win over East Carolina at Joel Coliseum in front of 9,738 fans.
“We’ve really been looking for that,” Prosser said of Gurley’s production after the Deacs improved to 8-5. “He’s been a scorer all his life. He’ll be a scorer here.”
Gurley joined fellow freshmen L.D. Williams and Ish Smith as impact players against East Carolina (4-8). They had to be because the Pirates concentrated on stopping 6-foot-11 Kyle Visser, the ACC’s top scorer.
“Visser’s a very good player so we wanted to fill up the lane,” said ECU coach Ricky Stokes.
For the most part, Visser wasn’t a factor. He did score 14 points but as Prosser pointed out, he didn’t touch the ball during the first four minutes.
That left it up to the freshmen to carry Wake.
Gurley came off the bench to drain two 3-pointers and a pull-up jumper for eight first-half points. Williams matched that total, going inside and out, including two threes. He finished with 11.
They helped Wake to a 40-30 halftime lead. Visser finally got cranked up in the second half, scoring nine points as the Deacons led by as many as 24, 75-51.
Smith, a point guard from Central Cabarrus, did his damage late, scoring 11 of his 15 points in the final eight minutes.
Smith added two threes, helping Wake shoot 12-of-22 from behind the arc and 58 percent from the field. That left Prosser breathing a sigh of relief. In an eight-point loss to South Florida on Friday, the Deacs were just 4-of-23 from long range.
“Our guys really want to be good,” Prosser said. “They come early and state late.”
Now, Prosser wants his guys to think football.
“Football should be cause for tremendous celebration here,” he said. “I want our players to be part of the celebration.”
NOTES: Williams had a double-double. He pulled down 10 rebounds. … Visser was averaging 19.4 points coming in. … Stokes is a former Wake assistant. … Jeremy Ingram went to Wake before transferring to ECU. He scored five points in his return. … ECU assistant Larry Dixon is a North Rowan graduate. … Wake starts a stretch of nine straight ACC games.