ACC-Big Ten Challenge: Wake Forest 83, Indiana 58

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 3, 2008

By Bret Strelow
WINSTON-SALEM ó James Johnson and Jeff Teague, back home after a title-winning trip to California, took a break during their religion class at Wake Forest to watch a YouTube clip of Teague’s jaw-dropping dunk against Cal State Fullerton.
Head coach Dino Gaudio took note of the on-court interaction during 15th-ranked Wake’s 83-58 victory against Indiana in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Wednesday night at Joel Coliseum.
The Hoosiers shadowed Teague in the early going, and Johnson scored 15 of his game-high 21 points in the first half. Teague, who is from Indianapolis, bounced back from a scoreless opening half to finish with 14 points.
L.D. Williams added a season-high 16 points and Al-Farouq Aminu, one of three talented freshmen on Wake’s roster, had five blocks to go along with 12 points.
“We’ve got so many good players,” Teague said. “I told L.D. and Farouq and James, ‘It’s your time to shine. I don’t know why they’re box-and-oneing, but y’all about to kill them.’ ”
Gaudio said he considers three factors important to the success of this year’s team:
No distractions.
The Demon Deacons ó who won the 76 Classic tournament in Anaheim, Calif. ó are making steady progress in the third area.
Gaudio said Johnson’s unselfishness Wednesday set the tone for Wake, which had 10 dunks against the overmatched Hoosiers (4-3). The Deacs (7-0) went nearly 13 minutes without attempting a 3-pointer.
“We’ve got all these young, talented guys, and how are they going to play together?” Gaudio asked. “They’ve been playing very well together, to a point tonight where we overpassed.”
Johnson, Aminu and Williams combined to score 41 of Wake’s 47 first-half points against Indiana, which trailed by 16 at the break.
The Deacs packed several highlight-reel plays into the last five minutes of the half.
Ishmael Smith spun away from Indiana guard Daniel Moore near midcourt and threw a lob from the right elbow. Williams and Teague both took off from the left block.
“Honest to goodness, if I knew Jeff was on the wing, I would have let him get it just because we were playing Indiana,” Williams said.
Williams jumped in front of Teague, who was closer to the baseline, and dunked the ball.
“The high-flyer came and got it,” Teague said. “I went up for it and thought it was for me ó Ish gave me the eye. Mr. Fly himself, L.D., came and got it.”
Johnson followed with an emphatic slam of his own and scored Wake’s final 11 points of the half. He went 3-for-3 from 3-point range during that stretch despite entering the game with three makes in 11 tries from long range.
Johnson one-upped Williams by dribbling the length of the floor and dunking over helpless IU guard Matt Roth, who failed in his attempt to draw a charge.
Teague and Johnson joked about that jam being the next one to show up on YouTube.
“When I saw him still backing up, I went for what I could get and got two points,” Johnson said.
Teague capped a strong second half by driving through the lane for a one-handed dunk, and the Deacs shot 61.5 percent for the game. They forced IU starters Devan Dumes and Malik Story into a combined 13 turnovers and held leading scorer Tom Pritchard to four points.
Wake, which won 100-67 five years ago in the only previous meeting between the schools, improved to 8-1 in the Challenge.
“Jeff Teague is like a brother to me,” Johnson said, “and I would never want him to lose to a team like Indiana even though they are good and feisty.”
NOTE: Junior forward Jamie Skeen, who was declared ineligible for the fall semester for violating the school’s academic policy, will not return for the spring semester.
School officials said Skeen, who averaged 5.6 points and 4.1 rebounds last season, decided not to appeal for reinstatement. Gaudio said Skeen likely would have redshirted even if he had returned.
“I wish Jamie would have gone ahead and appealed the decision and came back,” Gaudio said. “I mean this with all my heart ó this isn’t coach-speak ó I’m telling you that is the most respectful, coachable young man that I’ve been a part of in 28 years. I don’t care if you bark at him, he doesn’t look you cross.”