ACC Basketball: Wake Forest 87, Georgia Tech 69
WINSTON-SALEM ó James Johnson was determined to make amends for Wake Forest’s worst loss of the season.
It took just 3 seconds for him to set the tone.
Johnson caught the opening tip and drove in for a thunderous dunk, the beginning of a dominant 24-point, 11-rebound performance to lead the eighth-ranked Demon Deacons to an 87-69 win over struggling Georgia Tech on Wednesday.
“I dunked it and it kind of let our team to get hyped right away,” Johnson said.
It was part of a dominating stretch where Wake Forest raced to leads of 25-5 and 48-25 on Johnson’s 3-pointer late in the first half. After Georgia Tech’s 3-point shooting helped cut the deficit to five early in the second half, Johnson went to work again inside to put it way.
The sophomore hit 10 of 12 shots and was two points shy of his career high, helping Wake Forest (20-4, 7-4 ACC) secure it first 20-win season since 2004-05.
But for Johnson, it allowed him to forget his mistake-filled performance in the Demon Deacons’ shocking loss to Georgia Tech less than three weeks ago ó the Yellow Jackets’ only ACC win.
“He was really energized,” Wake coach Dino Gaudio said. “He did not play well in Atlanta. Down the stretch he missed some buckets and it bothered him. He wanted to play well against these guys. He really stepped up and got us off to a great start.”
Jeff Teague added 15 points, while freshman Al-Farouq Aminu scored 14 and got the better of his older brother, Georgia Tech senior Alade Aminu, who was held to nine points.
Lewis Clinch hit six 3-pointers and scored 24 points and Iman Shumpert added 14 for Georgia Tech (10-15, 1-11), which has lost five straight and 10 of 11.
On Jan. 31, Shumpert’s jumper with 1 second left gave Georgia Tech a 76-74 win. It was part of a puzzling trend for Wake Forest, which has beaten good teams (North Carolina, Duke and Clemson) and lost to teams beneath them in the ACC standings (Georgia Tech, Miami and North Carolina State).
Early on, the Demon Deacons were nearly flawless and took advantage of a horrible start by the Yellow Jackets, who were coming off a 21-point loss to N.C. State on Saturday.
But leads have evaporated quickly in the ACC this season, and Georgia Tech closed the half by hitting four 3s in a 14-2 run to get within 50-39 at halftime.
With Wake Forest suddenly taking bad shots and committing turnovers, The Yellow Jackets closed the gap to 61-56 with 13:28 left when Alade Aminu hit a half-hook over his brother.
But Johnson soon went to work inside. He hit three shots in the paint in a 14-4 run that put it out of reach.