WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – Josh Howard and Robert O’Kelley had 18 points each as No. 23 Wake Forest broke out of a six-week slump with an 81-65 victory over Georgia Tech on Wednesday night.
The Demon Deacons (17-7, 6-6 Atlantic Coast Conference), ranked as high as No. 4 in early January, won consecutive games for the first time since starting the season 12-0, running their home mark to 13-1.
Howard and O’Kelley were a combined 7-for-10 from 3-point range as Wake Forest made a season-high 10 from beyond the arc, shot 50 percent and held a 36-24 rebounding advantage.
Wake Forest had shot 42 percent in an 11-game span in which it went 4-7.
The Yellow Jackets (14-9, 6-6) had won four of five and were trying to beat three straight ranked teams for the first time since the 1990 NCAA tournament. However, Georgia Tech fell to 2-6 on the road as the Demon Deacons led most of the way.
Wake Forest extended a 14-point halftime lead to 22 less than seven minutes into the second period as Howard hit two 3-pointers and a 15-footer. Craig Dawson’s 3-pointer with 13:28 left gave the Demon Deacons a 60-38 lead.
The lead reached 25 three minutes later as O’Kelley hit a 3-pointer and added a layup.
Tony Akins, averaging 21.7 points over his last three games, led Georgia Tech with 16 points. Alvin Jones added 11 points and 13 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the season.
The Yellow Jackets held Maryland the Virginia to season-low point totals and a combined 39.5 percent shooting in upsets last week. However, Wake Forest scored its most points since a 95-89 overtime loss to Georgia Tech a month ago.
The Demon Deacons used first-half runs of 15-3 and 10-0 to build double-digit leads as O’Kelley sank two 3-pointers in a 48-second span during the first run, and Darius Songaila had six points during Wake Forest’s late spurt.
Wake Forest’s 43 points at the break was its most since getting 47 against Virginia on Jan. 2 as Howard, Songaila and O’Kelley had 10 each at halftime.
“Just too many mental errors early in the game, and a lot of physical errors, just throwing the ball all over the place,” Coach Paul Hewitt said.
“This time of the year everybody is fighting for their lives, and if you are going to get beat at least get beat being ready to play. I’m not sure how ready we were.”