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Koumadje has double-double as No. 17 Florida St. routs Wake

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Christ Koumadje hasn’t had many chances to make an impact on games this season. But he used his long, 7-foot-4 frame to dominate Wake Forest for the best night of his college career.

Koumadje recorded his first career double-double, with a season-high 20 points and a career-high 12 rebounds, to help No. 17 Florida State rout Wake Forest 88-66 on Wednesday night.

“He did a really good job of going to the offensive glass early on, especially in our zone,” Wake Forest coach Danny Manning said. “We didn’t turn and go hit him, he brought the contact to us. When he gets within four feet of the basket, when he jumps, he’s right there at the rim.”

Koumadje, who is playing in his 109th career game, played just 24 minutes but was efficient from start to finish. He made 10 of 12 shots from the floor as the Seminoles won their sixth straight game.

While he has been an effective rebounder this season, Koumadje didn’t score in Florida State’s last game and hadn’t produced more than nine points in his previous 10 ACC games this season. But he was a significant part of the game plan from the start on Wednesday, scoring 12 points and pulling down eight rebounds as the Seminoles took a 38-31 halftime lead.

“The coaches demand energy from me,” Koumadje said. “Coming out, I was just trying to be aggressive. My teammates found me. I was crashing the glass.”

Phil Cofer scored 13 points and Mfiondu Kabengele had nine points and seven rebounds for Florida State (19-5, 7-4 ACC), which enjoyed its most lopsided win against an ACC team this season. The Seminoles’ previous best performance was an 80-62 win at Syracuse on Feb. 5.

Florida State outrebounded Wake Forest 43-27. Koumadje had five of the Seminoles’ 12 offensive rebounds.

“We didn’t rebound the ball the way we had typically rebounded in league play,” Manning said. “We have to do a better job on the backboard.”

Chaundee Brown scored 20 points on 7 of 12 shooting and Brandon Childress had 11 points for Wake Forest (9-14, 2-9). The Demon Deacons are just 1-6 against ranked teams this season.

Wake Forest shot 38.6 percent (22 of 57) from the floor.

Cofer and P.J. Savoy each made three 3-pointers as the Seminoles shot 38.5 percent (10 for 26) from beyond the arc.

The Seminoles shot 56.5 percent (35 of 62) from the floor. They had 13 players score in the game as Florida State’s bench produced 41 points.

“We intended to get them in regardless,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said of using the reserves. “They were very effective when they went in.”

Florida State has won six straight ACC games for the first time since the 2011-12 season in which the Seminoles also won the league tournament.

STRENGTH IS DEPTH

Koumadje is the eighth Florida State player to lead the team in scoring in a game this season. Others who have led the way for the Seminoles are Cofer, Kabengele, P.J. Savoy, Terance Mann, M.J. Walker, Trent Forrest and David Nichols.

SOME IMPROVEMENT

Wake Forest came in shooting 29.8 percent from 3-point range. But Childress and Brown each made 3-pointers on Wednesday as the Demon Deacons shot 44 percent (11 of 25) from beyond the arc.

“They hit some 3s that we contested very well,” Hamilton said.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Few ACC teams have been as impressive as Florida State the past three weeks. The Seminoles could move up into the top 15.

BIG PICTURE

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons battled for a half but lost for a sixth straight time in Tallahassee, where they haven’t won since 2008.

Florida State: The Seminoles shot 64.5 percent (20 of 31) in the second half and only committed four turnovers in the final 20 minutes.

UP NEXT

Wake Forest hosts North Carolina on Saturday.

Florida State plays at Georgia Tech on Saturday.

Nwora, No. 15 Louisville rout Wake Forest 82-54

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Jordan Nwora scored 20 points and No. 15 Louisville won its sixth straight game, routing Wake Forest 82-54 on Wednesday night.

Dwayne Sutton added 17 points and 10 rebounds, Malik Williams finished with 13 points and Ryan McMahon had 12 points on four 3-pointers for the Cardinals (16-5, 7-1).

They shot 52 percent and led by 35 while keeping themselves even with three other one-loss teams — No. 2 Duke, No. 3 Virginia and No. 9 North Carolina — atop the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Nwora, who averages 18 points, had 17 in the first half while Ryan McMahon hit three 3s in roughly 5 minutes. Behind those two — and 8-of-13 shooting from 3-point range in the half — Louisville needed less than 15 minutes to build a 20-point lead, and the Cardinals spent the rest of the game maintaining it.

Brandon Childress scored 13 points, Jaylen Hoard finished with 11 and Chaundee Brown had 10 for the Demon Deacons (8-12, 1-7).

They shot a season-worst 27 percent and missed 13 of their first 14 3-pointers. They have lost seven of eight and are off to their fourth 1-7 start to league play in five years under coach Danny Manning.

BIG PICTURE

Louisville: The Cardinals are riding the hottest streak of their five years in the ACC. Their 7-1 start to league play is their best since joining this conference, and their best in any league since they opened 8-0 in the old Big East in 2008-09. But things are about to get tougher — their next four opponents are in the AP Top 25.

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons are off to yet another poor start to league play. They began 1-7 in the ACC in Manning’s first season in 2014-15, opened 1-13 in the conference the following season and were 1-8 last season. That’s bad, and this is worse: In none of those seasons did Wake Forest make a postseason tournament or finish above .500.

Saturday’s Things To Know: The Big 12 rolls, Kentucky’s back, Justin Robinson breaks out

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PLAYERS OF THE DAY: Justin Robinson, Virginia Tech

Robinson had the game of his life on Saturday afternoon.

The senior point guard, who has spent much of this season overshadowed by the emergence of Nickeil Alexander-Walker, scored 24 of his 35 points in the first half, hit nine of his 13 threes and handed out eight assists as No. 10 Virginia Tech bounced back from a couple of embarrassing losses at Virginia and at North Carolina to mollywhop Syracuse in Blacksburg.

The Hokies jumped out to an early double-digit lead, pushed the lead to 19 points by halftime and ended up cruising through the second half as the Syracuse zone had no answer for their ability to pass the ball and shoot over the top of the Orange defenders.

This was exactly the kind of win that Buzz Williams’ team needed to get their confidence back and headed in the right direction.

TEAM OF THE DAY: Kentucky Wildcats

It doesn’t get much better than knocking off a top ten team and getting the nation back on your bandwagon. We wrote about about No. 8 Kentucky beating No. 9 Kansas right here.

ONIONS OF THE DAY: Braxton Beverly, N.C. State

The Wolfpack trailed 67-61 with 20 seconds left. After four missed free throws from Marcquise Reed, Braxton Beverly hit this shot to give N.C. State the win:

EXTRA ONIONS: The Hausers

And we all thought that Markus Howard was the bucket-getter for Marquette.

Well, he still is. He had 31 points today. But just as important as those 31 points were the 41 points and 14 boards that Sam and Joey Hauser combined for as No. 12 Marquette erased an 11-point deficit late in the second half on Saturday. There wasn’t a single shot that stood out, but that duo made big shot after big shot, and then hit clutch free throws down the stretch to ice the win.

With those two playing as well as they have been playing, Marquette is looking more and more like a serious Final Four threat.

SATURDAY WAS A GOOD DAY FOR …

THE BIG 12: Thanks to an impressive feat of scheduling, the Big 12 was able to cruise past the SEC in the Big 12/SEC Challenge thanks in large part to the fact that three of the top five teams in the SEC — No. 16 Auburn, No. 22 Mississippi State and No. 25 LSU — were not playing in the event. Kansas-Kentucky was a thriller, and Iowa State-Ole Miss had some intrigue even if it didn’t live up to it, but beyond that, the slate as a whole was something of a snooze.

But it worked out for the Big 12. They won the event 6-4.

THE BIG THREE: It’s not exactly surprising given the competition that they were playing, but No. 1 Tennessee, No. 2 Virginia and No. 3 Duke all cruised to blowout wins. Tennessee was challenged early by West Virginia, Duke was challenged a little longer by Georgia Tech, but overall there wasn’t much of a sweat.

QUINNDARY WEATHERSPOON: Weatherspoon finished with 27 points, scoring 20 in the second half as No. 22 Mississippi State landed a much-needed win over No. 16 Auburn, 92-84.

LINDELL WIGGINTON: It has been awhile since we’ve seen Wigginton play like the guy that was arguably the best returning guard in the Big 12 this season, but he did on Saturday. Wigginton scored 18 points in 21 minutes off the bench, shooting 7-for-10 from three and making three threes to help Iowa State land a win at Ole Miss. Getting Wigginton and Cameron Lard playing better is the key to the Cyclones reaching their season.

SATURDAY WAS A BAD DAY FOR …

KANSAS STATE: The Wildcats had won five straight games, turning their season around and setting themselves on a course as one of college basketball’s biggest sleepers, and then the SEC/Big 12 Challenge comes along and Kansas State goes and loses to Texas A&M, who entered this game with a 7-10 record having lost six of their last seven. That’s not ideal.

MISSOURI: The Tigers led No. 25 LSU by 14 points with 2:08 left, and not only did they managed to find a way to get to overtime, but they lost in overtime and failed to cover 5.5 points. This was a bad beat for Missouri and the people that bet on them.

TRAVIS STEELE: It’s bad enough that Xavier blew an 11 point second half lead and lost at home to No. 12 Marquette, but part of the reason that the Musketeers lost is that Steele, with 3:34 left in the game, was hit with a technical foul right after Marquette had regained the lead. He’s had better days.

ISAAC COPELAND: Not only did Nebraska lose at home to Ohio State, the third straight loss for the Huskers as they fight for a spot in the NCAA tournament, but they suffered a much more significant loss: Isaac Copeland is done for the year after tearing his ACL, and he tore it going up for a meaningless dunk after he was called for a travel. Just brutal.

JORDAN GOODWIN: The Billikens might have lost their chance to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament on Saturday with a 54-53 loss to Davidson, and that loss was due to Jordan Goodwin missing a pair of free throws with just 0.4 seconds left on the clock. That’s a tough one to swallow.

FINAL THOUGHT

Overall, I know the Big Ten is a good basketball conference.

There are two very real national title contenders at the top of the league in Michigan and Michigan State, and they legit.

But beyond that, what are we talking about here?

Because the further we get into the season, the more that I am starting to believe that there is a giant mass of mediocrity in the league once you get past the top two teams.

We all thought Maryland was the team that was going to emerge as the contender to the Michigan schools, but after getting worked by the Wolverines, the Terps turned around and lost to Illinois on Saturday. That’s not good. Neither is the emergence of Wisconsin as potentially the third-best team in the conference after they had a string of losing four out of five, including a home game to Minnesota and a pair of games where they couldn’t crack 15 first half points. Purdue has looked great in metrics like KenPom and NET, but that’s largely due to the number of close losses they have against the likes of Florida State, Virginia Tech and Texas. I don’t trust Iowa or Minnesota. Ohio State just snapped a five-game losing streak against Nebraska, who is on a three-game losing streak. Indiana has lost six in a row.

I fully expect at least nine teams from the Big Ten to get to the NCAA tournament because the Pac-12 is awful, the Mountain West only has one potential at-large team and the Atlantic 10 has none. The bids have to come from somewhere.

But that doesn’t mean I think that those teams are going to be great once they get there.

Guy, Huff lead No. 3 Virginia past Deacons, 68-45

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Kyle Guy and Jay Huff scored 12 points each, and No. 3 Virginia opened with a 25-3 run in a 68-45 victory against Wake Forest on Tuesday night.

De’Andre Hunter and Mamadi Diakite had 11 points each for the Cavaliers (17-1, 5-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who bounced back from a 72-70 loss at No. 2 Duke on Saturday. The victory was Virginia’s seventh in a row in the series against Wake Forest and their 12th in a row overall at John Paul Jones Arena.

Brandon Childress led the Demon Deacons (8-10, 1-5) with 12 points, and Olivier Sarr had 11.

Virginia led 12-0 before Childress hit a 3-pointer for Wake Forest, their only basket in their first 13 attempts. After the Demon Deacons fell behind by 32-9, they outscored the Cavaliers 14-4 the rest of the half. Childress had eight points and Sharone Wright Jr. a pair of 3-pointers in the run for the Deacons.

In the second half, Ty Jerome started the scoring for Virginia with a 3-pointer, and Wake Forest never got closer than 14 the rest of the way.

BIG PICTURE

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons arrived among the national leaders in free-throw attempts with more than 26 per game but attempted none in the first half and just seven in the game, making five. Their offense also goes almost entirely through Childress, who leads them not only in scoring (16.8 points per game), but entered with more assists (71) than the next three top players combined (68) while playing an average of nearly 37 minutes.

Virginia: The Cavaliers showed off some offensive potential in racing to the early lead. Guy had just three of the 25 points and Jerome had none. Huff, a reserve center, had eight, and Hunter, the team’s second-leading scorer, and Diakite each had seven in the blitz.

UP NEXT

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons return home to face Boston College on Saturday.

Virginia: The Cavaliers go on the road at play at Notre Dame on Saturday.

Alexander-Walker leads No. 9 Hokies past Wake Forest, 87-71

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BLACKSBURG, Va. — Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored 24 points and No. 9 Virginia Tech used a 14-4 first-half run to pull away from Wake Forest in an 87-71 victory Saturday.

Ty Outlaw added 14 points and Ahmed Hill 12 for the Hokies (15-2, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference). Outlaw, Hill and Justin Robinson each made a 3-pointer during the burst, which turned a 17-all tie into a 31-21 lead with 4 1/2 minutes left in the half. The Demon Deacons didn’t get closer than eight the rest of the way.

Brandon Childress scored 18 of his 28 points in the second half for Wake Forest (8-9, 1-4). Childress was 7 of 12 from the field and the rest of the team was 11 of 36. Wake Forest lost despite a 38-22 edge in free-throw attempts.

The Hokies’ lead was 53-44 early in the second half when Outlaw sparked an 11-0 run with a 3-pointer. Alexander-Walker and Outlaw added 3s in the burst, giving the Hokies a 64-44 lead with just over 12 minutes left.

Virginia Tech was whistled for 24 fouls to the Demon Deacons’ 18.

REF DOWN

Most of the game was officiated by Clarence Armstrong and Jerry Heater because Mike Eades left the floor early with an apparent knee injury.

BIG PICTURE

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons’ youth appeared to drag them down in the first half. Childress had the hot hand early, hitting a pair of 3-pointers and two free throws in the first 7 1/2 minutes, but Childress didn’t get another field goal attempt until just 1:26 remained in the half. He was fouled and made both shots, giving him a team-high 10 points in the half, but on just two official field goal attempts.

Virginia Tech: Coach Buzz Williams was super-charged for this one. He discarded his jacket early in the first half and spent much of the half doing a defensive slide up and down the sideline instructing his team on defense. It didn’t help that the officials whistled the Hokies for 11 personal fouls to just five for Wake Forest.

Tuesday’s Three Things To Know: It was a surprisingly wild night in college hoops

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While Golden State was busy putting up 50 points in a quarter, the college basketball world had themselves a wild night that featured a pair of top 25 teams winning in the final seconds, some big dogs rolling and a couple of trendy teams taking ugly losses.

Here is what you need to know from Tuesday night:

1. THE BIG BOYS ROLLED

The biggest game of the night ended up being one of the most boring games of the night, as No. 4 Virginia put away No. 9 Virginia Tech before we reached the under eight media timeout. The Wahoos hit nine of their first 11 threes, finished 13-for-24 from beyond the arc on the evening and took a 44-22 lead into halftime, eventually knocking off the Hokies, 81-59. It was an utterly dominant performance from Tony Bennett’s club, and one that had our Travis Hines convincing himself that this is the year for UVA.

The Cavs weren’t the only big dog to handle their business in impressive fashion on Tuesday. No. 3 Tennessee jumped out to a 23-6 lead on Arkansas and never looked back, beating the Razorbacks 106-87 in a game where the Vols never seemed to get out of third gear. While that was happening, No. 12 Kentucky was in the midst of going into Stegeman Coliseum and dropping a hammer on Georgia, 69-49. Ashton Hagans — who was previously committed to the Bulldogs — put a career-high 23 points on the board.

And lastly, while the Tar Heels didn’t run away with this win, they did manage to hold off Notre Dame, 75-69. This win was notable because of the second half performance from Nassir Little. He scored just 11 points, but all of them came in the final 11 minutes, and he had nine in a 14-6 run that turned a deficit into a 65-58 lead.

2. SAM HAUSER SAVES No. 15 MARQUETTE, No. 17 N.C. STATE IS NOT SO LUCKY

Hauser put up a career-high 31 points to go along with eight boards in a 74-71 win at Georgetown as he was forced into point guard duties as Markus Howard was dealing with a lower back issue and Joseph Chartouny has apparently forgotten how to be a point guard. The Hoyas are not exactly a powerhouse these days, but they are a dangerous team offensively that has won some games we did not expect them to win, and going into Washington D.C. and winning this game without the Big East Player of the Year is, frankly, really impressive.

And important.

The Golden Eagles remain the only team that is one game behind Villanova in the Big East regular season title race.

N.C. State was not as fortunate. Playing without starting point guard Markell Johnson, the Wolf Pack found themselves down by 15 points at the half and by as many as 22 points in the second half at Wake Forest. A 29-7 run tied the game at 58 with about seven minutes left in the game, but Wake Forest did enough down the stretch to get the win, 71-67.

This is not a great loss for N.C. State, who has now lost two of their last three games and no longer looks like a top 25 basketball team.

3. THE OLE MISS HYPE TRAIN DERAILS

The trendy team this week was Ole Miss, and deservedly so — in the span of 96 hours, they beat No. 11 Auburn by 15 points and went into Starkville and picked off No. 14 Mississippi State. They were 13-2 on the season and 3-0 in the SEC at that point. They¬†deserved to be trendy.

And it all came crashing down with a visit from LSU. Tremont Waters scored 20 points and added nine assists as the Tigers knocked off No. 18 Ole Miss, 83-69, in Oxford. Now 3-0 in the league, it may be time that we start looking at LSU as the new Ole Miss.

AND I NEED TO MENTION …

That a pair of top 25 teams survived at the last second. In Starkville, Mississippi State survived Florida, 71-68, thanks to a three-point play from Quinndary Weatherspoon with 3.6 seconds left on the clock. And out in Boise, No. 10 Nevada knocked off Boise State, 72-71, thanks to a three with 4.5 seconds left from Cody Martin, who had not made a three since Dec. 15th and was shooting 19.5 percent from beyond the arc entering the night.