Winston-Salem, N.C. - Jelani Hewitt brought Georgia Southern (0-2) within five points in the second half, but Travis McKie's six points on the ensuing possession put an 11-point cushion in between Wake Forest (2-0) and the Eagles with 7:15 left in the game, giving the Demon Deacons what they needed to hang on 81-72.
"Great momentum change, it came at the right time," McKie said. "They had the momentum at that time. I hedged in on the screen, and the point guard lost the ball, Tony [Chennault] got it. I ran out, he gave it to me, laid the ball up, intentional foul, two free throws, and got the ball right back and got two more free throws. It definitely gave our team more confidence in the game."
McKie led the Deacs with 23 points, and C.J. Harris again overcame four fouls to finish with 20 points for the second time in this young season. Chennault added a solid 14 points, and freshman shooting guard Chase Fishcher found his stroke, as he netted 13 points off the bench.
The tallest player Georgia Southern played Kameron Dunnican (6-foot-8) only saw action for eight minutes, while the Eagles often employed three and four-guard lineups. That left Wake with a significant size advantage, but the Demon Deacons were embarrassingly outrebounded 35-30.
"It doesn't take great size to rebound, it's about athleticism, toughness, blocking people out, and a nose for the ball," Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "We need to keep focusing on rebounding and doing a better job on that."
Staying focused in general is something Wake needs improve on. With 7:15 remaining in the first half Harris nailed a three-pointer to give the Deacs a 27-12 advantage, their largest of the game. From that shot till McKie's six-point play Georgia Southern outscored Wake Forest 33-23.
"We're still a very young basketball team," Bzdelik said. "We need to make some better decisions. Dribble less, pass more, see the whole court and see things before they happen as opposed to after the fact - and that will happen."
It did happen. After McKie's six-point play the Eagles did trim the Demon Deacons lead down to seven points, but Wake recovered to score on nine of its final 10 possessions to close the game.
"50-45 it was getting a little tight, and I thought they were shaking at the knees a little bit," Georgia Southern head coach Charlton "C.Y." Young said. "We did a lot of things to hurt ourselves."
By the numbers:
- Wake forced scored 29 points of the 22 turnovers it forced.
- The Deacs recorded 12 steals, with Chennault and Harris taking eight of them (four apiece).
- Reserve point guard Anthony Fields has seven assists and no turnovers in two games.
- After scoring eight points, pulling down 10 rebounds and blocking eight shots against Loyola (Md.) Carson Desrosiers only churned out an anemic four points, six rebounds and three blocks against the severely undersized Eagles. He must improve on that before facing the talented frontlines of the ACC.
- Wake Forest held Georgia Southern to under 35-percent shooting from the field in the first half, but the Eagles shot an impressive 61.3-percent following halftime.
- The Demon Deacons shot an abysmal 47.8-percent (22-46) from the free-throw line against the Greyhounds, but improved to 79.4-percent (27-34) at the charity stripe against the Eagles.