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November 18, 2013

Wake overcomes scrappy Dolphins

Winston-Salem, NC - Wake Forest saw its 15-point first half-lead completely evaporate when Jacksonville (1-3) led twice by one point in the second half, but the Demon Deacons outscored the Dolphins 24-16 the final 9:03 to win 90-83 and improve to 4-0 for the first time in Jeff Bzdelik's tenure with the Black and Gold.

"Jacksonville is a team that plays very, very hard and they keep coming at you," Bzdelik said. "They keep attacking, and they really scrap. They're well-coached [and] very athletic. We played very, very well the first eight minutes tonight."

"Then we got a little sloppy, coupled with Jacksonville's relentless effort and they came back and took the lead. But our team showed a lot of grit and mental toughness and reclaimed this game, so I'm very proud of them. We'll just continue to work hard every day to get better, and we will. I'm very proud of my players."

To provide some context for how significant this win is for Wake the Deacs had seven losses by six points or less last season. The 2012-13 Demon Deacons would have likely folded if it saw a 15-point lead of theirs disappear, but a year has made a difference in the maturation process of this team.

Codi Miller-McIntyre put Wake on top for good when he made a three-pointer to give the Deacs a 69-66 lead with 8:43 remaining in regulation on his way to 20 points for the fourth straight game; however, it was Travis McKie who led the way with a game-high 22 points and 10 rebounds.

"I played pretty well," McKie said. "I took a lot more shots than I wanted to. I have to finish better around the rim, but they [Dolphins] came out and played hard and made the game close. We sustained their run and we did our own."

Wake Forest scored on 13 of their first 17 possessions, but struggled to get the ball in the basket until its final 17 possessions, which it also scored on 13 of. The Demon Deacons finished 29-75 shooting from the field (38.7-percent) to Jacksonville's 30-67 shooting from the field (44.8-percent).

Coron Williams gave Wake some much-needed scoring punch with 14 points (4-8 on three-point attempts) off the bench.

Devin Thomas overcame his three first-half fouls to finish with a stat-stuffing eight points, 16 rebounds and five assists to one turnover.

Observations ...

--- Wake Forest dominated the boards with a 57-40 rebounding edge largely due to Thomas' efforts.

--- Tyler Cavanaugh reached double figures in points for the second time this season with 12. He also grabbed seven rebounds. This must by commonplace for Cavanaugh.

--- The Demon Deacons made a season best 8-18 three-point attempts.

--- Wake struggled to defend the paint, yielding 42 points inside to Jacksonville.

Post-game Q-&-A's …

Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik

On Devin Thomas: "He plays with unbelievable passion and energy, second to no one. He rebounds as well as anybody and I always said he was a great passer. He has a great vision. I'm always on our guys about getting the ball inside to him, because if you get the ball inside to him and he doesn't have a quick move to the rim he will find cutters and he will find open guys."

"He has a high basketball IQ in that regard. So getting the ball inside is really important to us for a lot of reasons-the opportunity to score inside and the opportunity to go inside out."

On Coron Williams: "People have to be aware of him, and it really opens up the court. The way you have good offense is to have great spacing, and in order to have great spacing you have to have players that have to be guarded. He really does a great job of that. He shoots it quick and really extends the defense."

Jacksonville head coach Cliff Warren

Opening statement: "I was very proud of our guys' effort tonight. We had spurts in the first half, but I was very proud of what they did in the second half, coming back against a really good team. Unfortunately, we didn't do a good enough job getting rebounds."

"They [Deacs] did an excellent job getting on offensive glass. Wake had 25 offensive rebounds, but our guys definitely battled and I'm proud of their effort tonight."


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