Jan. 19, 2006
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – Justin Gray scored 25 points to lead Wake Forest past Georgia Tech 86-71 on Wednesday night, snapping the Demon Deacons’ three-game losing streak to open Atlantic Coast Conference play.
Eric Williams added 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Demon Deacons (12-5, 1-3 ACC), who dominated the first half and led by as many as 27 points early after the break.
Anthony Morrow scored 24 of his 29 points after the break to help Georgia Tech (9-6, 2-2) close to within eight points late. But the Yellow Jackets got no closer as Wake Forest got four straight points from freshman Harvey Hale to turn away the rally.
Gray continued his torrid scoring of the past three games, following up on a 27-point effort in a loss to Clemson and a career-high 38 in a loss to Maryland. He had 18 in the first half and hit his first five 3-pointers, leading a spirited first-half effort by a Demon Deacons team that needed this win badly.
The Demon Deacons shot 55 percent in the half and scored 20 points off 14 turnovers, building a 51-28 lead at the break. That lead grew to 65-38 on an inside score from Williams with 15:34 left.
But the Yellow Jackets kept inching back into the game, getting a 3-pointer by Morrow off a stolen inbounds pass to cut the lead to 77-69 with 4:03 left and cause Demon Deacons fans who didn’t head for the exits early to grow uneasy.
But Georgia Tech got no closer. Hale, who had gone 1-for-3 at the line, hit a pair of free throws to push the margin back to 10, then followed with a jumper for an 81-69 lead with 2:45 left.
Gray sparked the Demon Deacons’ first-half charge, scoring 11 of 13 points for Wake Forest during a 4-minute first-half run.
His personal spurt, which began with back-to-back 3s for a 31-20 lead with 6:58 left, was the start of a 26-9 run. That run ended with Wake Forest scoring on its last seven possessions of the half, with Gray hitting a pullup 3-pointer in transition to start the run and Williams closing it with a stickback just before halftime for the 23-point lead.