Winston-Salem, NC - After sitting out one game with a strained groin C.J. Harris rediscovered his shooting touch in the final 1:05 to bury two clutch three pointers, overcoming a one-point deficit and a tie to propel Wake Forest (10-5, 1-0 ACC) past Virginia Tech (11-4, 0-1 ACC) 58-55, matching last season's conference win-total.
The Hokies limited the junior guard from Winston-Salem to 1-6 shooting before he stole the show to finish with 13 points.
"I was going to attack and make a play," Harris said. "I practice that every day in practice, so that was a routine shot. We can say we're in first place in the ACC right now. We just want to keep it rolling."
Rebounding has been the Demon Deacons Achilles heel the entire season. It reared its ugly face in Monday's disappointing 56-52 home loss to Wofford, as the Deacs surrendered nine offensive boards to the Terriers. Wake underwent a complete metamorphosis in the last five days to outrebound the Hokies 42-31, as Travis McKie tied his career-high with 15 boards and Nikita Mescheriakov added 10.
"We have done every rebound drill imaginable known to mankind over the last several days, and we've done that all year long," Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik said.
Wake could not have dreamed for a better start to the game. Mescheriakov nailed a three-pointer with 16:38 to give the Demon Deacons an early 10-2 lead, forcing Virginia Tech to burn an early timeout. He added a free-throw five minutes later to give the Deacs a 21-8 advantage, their largest of the game.
"I was extremely disappointed in our basketball team, right from the start of the game to be quite honest," Virginia Tech head coach Seth Greenberg said. "Our attention to detail was not what it needs to be coming into a league game. Right from the first play of the game, we actually executed a play going in the wrong direction - Mescheriakov catches a 'catch-and-shoot' and we don't make him put the ball on the floor."
The Hokies fought back from a 32-24 halftime deficit to tie the game three times, and take their only lead of the game at 53-52 when Jarell Eddie knocked down a three-pointer.
Wake never failed to counter Va. Tech's runs. The Hokies started the second half with a 14-6 spurt to tie the game at 38-38 with 12:31 left in the game, but the Deacs answered with a 7-0 surge. Greenberg's bunch challenged again with a 12-5 run capped by Erick Green's dunk to knot it up at 50-50 with 2:34 remaining in the contest, before Harris retaliated with his long-range game-winning dagger with 18 seconds.
"C.J. Harris did a wonderful job as our leader to make big shots, and that's what has to happen," Bzdelik said. "He is just a quiet, very effective player who everybody looks up to."