Wake Forest Demon Deacons

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No. 14 Florida State surges past Wake Forest 65-57

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Florida State made no excuses for its sluggish first half.

The No. 14 Seminoles fell behind 14-2 to Wake Forest, a team near the bottom of the Atlantic Coast Conference standings. Then came a second-half surge — 18 straight points — and a 65-57 victory. Florida State won for the 12th time in 13 games to finish fourth in conference.

“They kept us out of sorts,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “We couldn’t find our rhythm. I just felt Wake Forest did a very good job defensively of not letting us do what we need to do.”

The Seminoles (25-6, 13-5 ACC) never led until grabbing the lead at 47-45 on Trent Forrest’s basket with 7:28 left. Phil Cofer followed with an easy basket, then M.J. Walker supplied the knockout with a 3-pointer.

The Deacons (11-19, 4-14 ACC) frequently switched defenses, making it hard for the Seminoles to get the ball inside to 7-foot-4 Christ Koumadje and 6-10 Mfiondu Kabengele.

Forrest led a balanced FSU attack — 11 players scored — with 11 points. Koumadje had 8 points and 10 rebounds. After a cold-shooting first half by both teams, FSU shot 54 percent in the second half.

Brandon Childress, who scored three baskets to spark the Deacons to their early 12-point lead, finished with 13 points and Chaundee Brown added 11 — all in the first half.

The Deacons, who shot just 26 percent, went scoreless for nearly six minutes as the Seminoles erased a 45-40 deficit with their 18-0 run.

Wake Forest was 16 of 16 from the foul line en route to a 31-24 halftime lead as both teams struggled from the field. But the Deacons made only 6 of 13 from the line in the second half.

“We came out low energy, but we didn’t take them lightly,” Koumadje said. “Their defense was kind of tricky. But at the end of the day, we did what we had to do.”

PJ Savoy’s 3-pointer with 9:28 left pulled FSU into a tie at 45 — the first time the Seminoles hadn’t trailed since Wake Forest scored the opening basket.

“I thought we executed a lot better (in the second half),” Hamilton said. “We got some tremendous help from our non-starters in the first half.”

BIG PICTURE

Florida State: The Seminoles capped their first 25-game regular season and maintained their momentum heading into the ACC Tournament.

Wake Forest: The Deacons gave a strong performance for 30 minutes against a ranked team — they blew a big lead earlier in the week in a one-point loss to Duke — for the second straight home game. They’ll need to continue their improved play in the tournament in Charlotte to extend their season.

STAT PACK

Florida State rallied to finish 12-5 in the ACC after a 1-4 start that included losses at Pitt and Boston College, which finished back in the standings. But the Seminoles played only single games (all losses) against Virginia, North Carolina and Duke.

SENIOR NIGHT

Wake Forest senior Anthony Bilas, a seldom-used reserve was in the starting lineup for the first time in his last home game. Bilas’ father, Jay, a college basketball analyst for ESPN, was in attendance before going to Chapel Hill for the broadcast of the Duke-North Carolina game. Bilas re-entered the game in the final seconds and made an open 3-pointer for the game’s final points.

UP NEXT

Florida State: Plays Virginia Tech or the Wake Forest/Miami winner in the third round of the ACC tournament in Charlotte on March 14.

Wake Forest: Plays Miami in the first round of the ACC tournament on March 12.

Tuesday’s Things to Know: Kansas’ Big 12 streak ends; Big Ten race gets complicated; Duke survives

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Tuesday night featured chaos all over college basketball thanks to upsets and conference races getting upended. One of the sport’s most iconic streaks finally came to an end while another conference race got more interesting thanks to an upset loss. And that doesn’t even include an overtime thriller between top-25 teams and a top-five team nearly losing to an unranked team at the buzzer.

Oklahoma ends the Kansas Big 12 title streak with blowout win

The streak is finally over. After 14 consecutive years of Big 12 titles, the league is guaranteed a new conference regular-season champion after No. 13 Kansas fell on the road at Oklahoma.

Falling behind by double digits less than five minutes into the game, the Jayhawks never recovered as junior forward Dedric Lawson (18 points, 11 rebounds) was the team’s only consistent presence. Meanwhile, Oklahoma picked up its most important win of the season as this Q1 victory likely solidifies the Sooners into the Field of 68. Kristian Doolittle (24 points, 11 rebounds) tallied his fourth double-double of the season while Brady Manek earned 21 points.

CBT’s Rob Dauster has more on this one here as he explores what the end of this streak means for Kansas and college hoops.

Minnesota outlasts No. 11 Purdue to muddy the Big Ten race 

Things got complicated in the Big Ten on Tuesday night thanks to the Golden Gophers holding off Purdue for a Big Ten home win. While the victory likely punches Minnesota’s at-large ticket into the Field of 68, the most important takeaway from this one is the Boilermakers relinquishing their lead in the Big Ten.

With Michigan State’s Tuesday night win over Nebraska, the Big Ten now has a three-way tie for the conference lead as Purdue, the Spartans and Michigan are all 15-4 heading into the final conference game of the season. The Boilermakers had a golden opportunity to clinch at least a share of the Big Ten title with a win on Tuesday, but Carsen Edwards (22 points, 7-for-31 shooting) struggled to consistently make shots while big man Matt Haarms (three points, 1-for-8 shooting) was also off. Amir Coffey poured in 32 points for Minnesota as they were among the night’s big winners among bubble teams.

No. 14 Florida State rallies to beat No. 15 Virginia Tech in OT

The night’s only matchup between top-25 teams ended up being a good one as the Seminoles had an impressive second-half rally to earn the ACC home win.

While this game doesn’t have huge NCAA tournament implications (it’ll certainly help Florida State, but how much remains to be seen) the win gives the Seminoles the very important No. 4 seed (and double bye) in the upcoming ACC Tournament. Trailing by 14 points at the half, Florida State used a balanced effort to rally as Mfiondu Kabengale led with 17 points.

No. 4 Duke survives Wake Forest without Zion

Life without superstar freshman Zion Williamson continued for the Blue Devils on Tuesday as Duke barely survived with a one-point home win over Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons had multiple looks on the game’s final possession as Chaundee Brown’s putback rolled out in agonizingly slow fashion as time expired. Trailing by 10 in the second half, Duke was carried by freshman R.J. Barrett (28 points) in this one as Cam Reddish battled foul trouble and a sluggish start to only finish with six points.

Point guard Tre Jones (13 points, eight rebounds, three steals) also had a solid effort on both ends of the floor, but he left for part of the second half with what’s being described as a bruised right quad. Junior big man Marques Bolden was also limited due to a hip injury in this one as the Blue Devils need to get healthy, and quickly, before Saturday’s rivalry showdown at North Carolina.

No. 4 Duke holds on for 71-70 victory over Wake Forest

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DURHAM, N.C. — RJ Barrett scored 28 points and No. 4 Duke held on to beat Wake Forest 71-70 on Tuesday night after Chaundee Brown’s jumper rimmed out at the buzzer.

Tre Jones added 13 points for a sluggish Duke team missing star freshman Zion Williamson for a fourth straight game with a sprained right knee. The Blue Devils (26-4, 14-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) overcame 41 percent shooting and a 16-for-26 showing from the free-throw line to win their 10th straight in the in-state series.

Williamson’s absence, coupled with a rough game from No. 3 option Cameron Reddish, left Barrett as essentially a one-man show for Duke. The Blue Devils — 26-point favorites — trailed by 10 with 16 minutes remaining and never led by more than three until the final three minutes.

Brown had 21 points and 10 rebounds, and he pulled Wake Forest within 69-68 with two free throws with 43.9 seconds left. Duke bled the shot clock before the left-handed Barrett hit a right-handed jumper in the lane to put the Blue Devils up by three with 17.3 seconds remaining.

Brandon Childress hit a layup with 7.4 seconds left, and Wake Forest had one last chance after Duke turned it over while trying to inbound the ball. Childress missed a 3-pointer with about two seconds left and the rebound went to Brown, whose short jumper spun around the back of the iron before falling out at the horn.

BIG PICTURE

Wake Forest: This one will sting for the Demon Deacons, who have struggled throughout Danny Manning’s fifth season while losing nine games by 20 or more points. This one on paper looking like it would be No. 10. Wake Forest responded with arguably its best game of the season — but fell inches short of its first victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium since Tim Duncan’s senior year in 1997.

Duke: There weren’t many encouraging things in this one from the Blue Devils, who once again stumbled early against a lower-division ACC team. But unlike the Georgia Tech and Boston College games — in which they pulled away after falling behind in the first half — they could never shake the pesky Demon Deacons.

UP NEXT

Wake Forest: Plays host to No. 14 Florida State on Saturday.

Duke: Visits No. 3 North Carolina on Saturday night.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Fixing men’s hoops a top priority during Wake Forest AD transition

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — New Wake Forest athletic director John Currie is taking over a department that’s on pretty solid overall footing — except in men’s basketball.

The basketball season ends well before Currie formally starts his new job on May 1, so retiring AD Ron Wellman says he will make any major decisions “if there are major decisions to be made” — with both men saying Monday that they’ll keep an open line of communication during the transition.

Wellman and Currie spoke a day after the school announced the retirement of the longest-tenured AD in Division I and its selection of Currie, a Wake Forest alumnus and Wellman protege who ran the departments at Kansas State and Tennessee, as his successor.

The moves come with one of the school’s highest-profile programs at a crossroads, and the official transition date falls several weeks after the Demon Deacons’ season wraps up.

“I’ll be the one making those decisions, but there will be communication between John and me, for sure,” Wellman said.

Currie says he has confidence in whatever Wellman, who took over at Wake Forest in 1992, decides to do.

“Ron Wellman has made a career of incredible decisions for Wake Forest” and at his other schools, Currie said. “I have extraordinary trust and respect for Ron and President (Nathan) Hatch, and as we go along the road, I’m sure that I’ll be clued in when I need to be.”

The situation in men’s basketball certainly will need to be addressed — one way or another.

Coach Danny Manning is 65-90 overall and 24-64 in Atlantic Coast Conference play with one NCAA Tournament appearance in five seasons. Barring a miracle run in the postseason, the Demon Deacons (11-17, 4-12) are headed for their seventh losing season since 2010 — also the last year they finished above .500 in the league.

Nearly half of Manning’s losses here (44) have come by double figures. Of the 17 losses this season, nine have been by at least 20 points. That includes the worst loss in the three-decade history of Joel Coliseum — a 95-57 setback to North Carolina last month — but doesn’t include head-scratching home defeats by Houston Baptist and Gardner-Webb that, at least, were close. And the Demon Deacons still have to play No. 4 Duke and No. 14 Florida State later this week.

This year’s team entered Monday night’s games ranked last in the league in seven major stat categories, including scoring defense, scoring margin, shooting percentage, shooting percentage allowed and assist-to-turnover ratio.

Manning has said part of the problem is youth, with only one scholarship player — junior Brandon Childress — remaining from the 2017 team that reached the NCAA Tournament’s First Four.

Complicating matters, Manning received a contract extension before last season, but Wellman did not disclose the terms or the length of the deal, as is customary at the private school.

And the lack of recent success in that sport threatens to undercut the success the department is enjoying in other areas.

Dave Clawson’s football program has won three bowls in three years, the men’s tennis team won an NCAA title in 2018 — one of five team national titles Wake Forest has claimed since Wellman took over — and the school ranks No. 6 nationally and tops in the ACC in the standings for the Director’s Cup, given to the top overall athletic department.

Plus, several new facilities are sprinkled across campus, from the football program’s indoor practice facility that opened in 2016 to the sports performance center and new basketball practice building scheduled to open later this year.

But basketball has long been the signature sport in the ACC, and there’s no denying Wake Forest has lagged behind over much of the past decade.

“It needs to be resolved,” Wellman said. “We need to do better, and I am confident that we will.”

Johnson, No. 8 North Carolina roll past Wake Forest 95-57

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Cameron Johnson scored 27 points, and eighth-ranked North Carolina scored the game’s first 18 points in Saturday’s 95-57 win over Wake Forest.

Freshman Coby White added 10 points, five rebounds and six assists for the Tar Heels (20-5, 10-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who dominated from the tip following their first loss in a month.

The Tar Heels, who lost to fourth-ranked Virginia on Monday, ran out to leads of 18-0, 25-3 and 35-7. They shot 74 percent in the opening half and finished at 62 percent while making 16 of 25 3-pointers, with Johnson making his first eight shots and six from behind the arc.

Freshman Jaylen Hoard scored 17 points in an ugly afternoon for the Demon Deacons (9-15, 2-10), who suffered their most lopsided loss in three decades at Joel Coliseum.

Wake Forest shot 33 percent.

BIG PICTURE

UNC: The Tar Heels got anything they wanted to start a game that resembled more of a November tuneup than a February league date. Johnson led that effort by making 10 of 13 shots and 7 of 10 3-pointers. Still, there was at least one apparent concern: the health of freshman reserve Nassir Little. He was a gametime decision after rolling his right ankle early against Virginia and felt good enough to play 11 first-half minutes, but he wasn’t on the bench after halftime.

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons found reason for hope with a Jan. 15 win against then-No. 17 North Carolina State, but they had won just once since with five losses coming by at least 16 points. Things began badly Saturday when Hoard didn’t start after arriving late for a pregame shootaround. And they got no better, most notably with leading scorer Brandon Childress (15.1 points) going scoreless on 0-for-12 shooting with six turnovers.

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.