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February 23, 2013

Wake stuns No. 2 Miami

Winston-Salem, NC - When David killed Goliath he used a slingshot and five smooth stones. When Wake Forest (12-14, 5-9 ACC) upset No. 2 Miami (22-4, 13-1 ACC) C.J. Harris made five first-half three pointers to help the Demon Deacons build a 19-point lead on their way to a convincing 80-65 victory and put an end to the Hurricanes 14-game win-streak.

"He got us off to a great start," Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "As the only senior [Harris] … it's funny before the game I said guys the asset we have is young legs. And he says are you referring to me too? I said you're still younger than their average age."

"But my point is as the lone senior he gave those young guys on our team a lot of confidence. His start, his first half was just absolutely terrific. [He] went five-for-five from the arc alone. That's big-time."

Harris finished with a game-high 23 points.

"We were really aggressive," Harris said. "It wasn't that their defense was any different than anybody else. We attacked them in transition off the dribble [and] shared the ball extremely well. When we get good look we shoot the ball extremely well."

The Deacs shot 54.2-percent from the field, including 7-12 from three-point range and held the Canes to a 39.1-percent shooting effort.

Bzdelik and his team knew Miami would make a run, which it did, narrowing its 19-point deficit down to five with 13:53 remaining in regulation. Wake countered by outscoring the Hurricanes 32-22 down the stretch.

"They're the No. 2 team in the country," Bzdelik said. "They've come back. They're really special. This is a team that could win it all. Our guys never wavered. You could see it in their eyes, and they just kept attacking offensively. They kept defending and kept scrapping, and that to me was the most impressive thing in this basketball game, our resolve when they started closing the gap."

It was not merely the resolve the Demon Deacons showed when Miami rallied in the second half that got them over the hump, but also their toughness on the boards and controlling the tempo.

Travis McKie (10) and Devin Thomas (eight) combined for half of Wake Forest's rebounds, as the Deacs were able to claim a 36-35 advantage on the boards.

"I just think we came out and matched their energy level," McKie said. "We wanted to attack the glass, because we knew they had a height advantage on us, definitely had an age advantage on us. Just going to get it that's pretty much it. We knew we had to do it to win the game, so if we wanted to win the game we had to win the rebounding war and we were able to do that. That was a huge part of us getting a W today."

Wake certainly has an edge in overall team quickness, which it took advantage of by forcing the Miami bigs to run. Winston-Salem native Reggie Johnson especially struggled to keep up with the Deacs fast tempo. He was limited to four points and three rebounds in just 16 minutes, while Julian Gamble battled foul to trouble finish with a relatively ineffective four points and five rebounds in 13 minutes.

"Today this was an up-tempo game," Miami head coach Jim Larranaga said. "Both teams needed to run and handle the ball very well and they were able to do that at a much higher level than we were."

Demon Deacon freshman point guards Codi Miller-McIntyre and Madison Jones set a fast pace from the get-go. The duo cancelled out the production of Bob Cousy Award finalist Shane Larkin.

Miller-McIntyre scored 15 points, pulled down two rebounds, dished out three assists to three turnovers and made one steal, while Jones scored eight points, made three assists against three turnovers, recorded season highs in rebounds (five) and steals (four) and did an impressive of keeping plays alive for the Deacs.

Larkin, who is a dangerous weapon off ball screens, scored reached his averages with 13 points and three assists, but struggled to facilitate Miami's offense as the Hurricanes turned it over 13 times to a meager seven assists.

"We didn't come into the game with enough intensity and enough focus," Larkin said. "They punched us in the mouth, and we didn't come back and fight back hard enough."

"Tonight it was pretty much individuals trying to make a big play. I'm responsible for that. As the point guard I need to get everybody involved and several times I came down and shot the ball without passing one time. Everybody usually touches the ball for us, but tonight we didn't get the shooters enough shots in their spots and we didn't get the bigs enough post touches. We just had a terrible offensive game tonight, and Wake Forest did a good job of taking us out of what we wanted to do."


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