Feb. 20, 2003
By KEITH PARSONS
AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA – Josh Howard knew all too well how long it had been since Wake Forest won at Georgia Tech.
Howard scored 24 points and Justin Gray tied his season high with 20 as the 10th-ranked Demon Deacons beat the Yellow Jackets 75-67 Thursday night, ending Georgia Tech’s 13-game home winning streak.
“The last time we beat Tech here, I was a freshman,” Howard said. “I’m a senior, and I wanted to do it again.”
Howard, the leading scorer in the Atlantic Coast Conference at 19 points a game, dominated from the start, making his first seven shots. His effort helped Wake Forest stay a half-game ahead of Duke and Maryland for the top spot in the ACC.
“We needed this game,” he said. “A lot of people thought we’d finish seventh in the conference.”
The Demon Deacons (18-4, 8-3 ACC) shot 53 percent as a team, the first time this season Georgia Tech has allowed an opponent to make at least half its shots at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
Freshman Jarrett Jack had 19 points for the Yellow Jackets (12-11, 5-7). Chris Bosh, their second-leading scorer, struggled and finished with 13. He’s been in a funk of late, shooting only 33 percent in the past four games.
“In the first half of the season, I was getting a lot of one-on-one coverage, and I had a lot of open looks,” Bosh said. “Any coach that sees that is going to make sure it doesn’t happen. I’ll just have to try to stick to the game plan better and try to turn this around.”
Georgia Tech lost at home for the first time since Feb. 9, 2002, and fell to 11-1 this season. On the road, the Yellow Jackets are 0-9.
“It’s real disappointing to lose that home winning streak,” B.J. Elder said. “That’s the one thing we had going for us this year. Maybe we can turn it around on the road.”
A month ago, Howard had 30 points in a six-point victory over the Yellow Jackets. He kept his cool in a physical game this time, walking away from a few altercations in the first half. Three times, he and Isma’il Muhammad got tangled up, forcing the referees to separate them.
Howard also was called for an offensive foul for pushing Muhammad away from him, but he settled down after the break.
“There was a lot of physical play,” Howard said. “That’s part of the game.”
Gray was playing for the third time since missing eight games with a broken jaw, which was wired shut for about three weeks. He still wears a protective face mask but hardly seemed bothered by it. He scored eight points in a five-minute stretch of the first half, helping the Deacons take an early lead.
“They gave me good looks,” he said. “We knew it would be a tough game, since Tech hadn’t lost at home. We needed this game.”
Wake Forest took control of a tight game with an 18-5 run early in the second half, highlighted by Howard’s powerful dunk off a rebound. Gray also made back-to-back 3-pointers during the spurt, which gave the Deacons a 62-46 lead.
“It’s gratifying but you don’t feel real safe,” Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser said of the big lead. “I marvel at our kids. They just adopt a tremendous sense of resolve which emanates from Josh.”
Georgia Tech got within six points in the final minute, but Wake Forest held on.
“They just played better than us,” Yellow Jackets coach Paul Hewitt said. “Obviously, I’m not happy about it, but you’ve got to give them credit.”