WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- C.J. Harris scored 16 points to help Wake Forest hold off Virginia 55-52 on Wednesday night.
Travis McKie added 14 points for the Demon Deacons (8-6, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who led by 14 points midway through the second half before holding off a rally by the Cavaliers in the final 6 minutes. Wake Forest won despite shooting just 26 percent after halftime and going the final 10 minutes without a field goal.
Instead, the Demon Deacons clung to their lead by knocking down just enough free throws to stay ahead, the last coming when Harris hit two with 5.3 seconds left for what turned out to be the final margin.
"This was a great, gutty win by our young basketball team," said Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik.
"We didn't score a field goal in the last 10:22, I believe. We had some good looks, had some layups and some free throws. You know what? We showed we're very resilient. We really were."
"We just battled; defended our tails off from wire to wire. Just a great win for our basketball team. They've been working really hard; I'm really proud of these guys. I'm really happy for them, they deserve this."
The Cavaliers (11-4, 1-1) had one more chance, but Jontel Evans threw the ball away on the wing and Joe Harris couldn't collect the ball in time for a desperation 3-point heave before the horn sounded.
Freshman Mike Tobey scored 14 points to lead Virginia.
Harris added 13 points, including a contested 3-pointer over Harris from right in front of the Virginia bench that made it 53-52 with 6.3 seconds left. He also knocked down a 3 with 16.5 seconds left that finally made it a one-possession game and set the stage for a wild finish.
Virginia shot just 36 percent and committed 17 turnovers, its second highest total of the season. Those miscues led to 15 points for the Demon Deacons, who shot 52 percent in the first half before the Cavaliers' stingy defense finally showed up.
Wake Forest's last field goal was a perfectly executed give-and-go layup by Codi Miller McIntyre off a feed from fellow freshman Devin Thomas, giving the Demon Deacons a 46-32 lead with 10:22 left.
Wake Forest made just 5 of 19 shots after halftime but hung on by making 15 of 18 free throws (83 percent) in the second half.
Virginia was coming off a 61-52 home win against North Carolina on Sunday night.
Beating the Demon Deacons would've made the Cavaliers 2-0 in the league for the first time since starting 3-0 in Tony Bennett's first season in 2009-10. Before that, the Cavaliers hadn't won their first two ACC games since the 1994-95 season.
"We've been working really hard on the defensive end. Defense is a team effort," added Bzdelik. "This group of players; they're really growing together as a group. That's how you defend; that's how you manufacture good offense."
"It's a team game, their growth not only on the court but off the court as a group of guys who really care about one another. It's showing as we improve. We are improving. We learned a lot from the Duke game and it carried over to tonight."