Pitt sends Wake home

Greensboro, NC - Jeff Bzdelik said all of his players were going to take an ice bath after their win over Notre Dame, but the Demon Deacons did not get out in time for Wake Forest's (17-16, 6-12 ACC) ACC Tournament second round meeting with Pittsburgh (24-8, 11-7 ACC) and were ice cold.
The fifth-seed Panthers held 12-seed Wake to a porous 18-53 (34-percent) shooting effort, and claimed a 38-30 rebounding advantage on their way to an 84-55 win and eliminate the Deacs from the ACC Tournament.
Wake Forest never led; not even once. The Panthers never gave the Demon Deacons a chance.
Pitt quickly took control of the game by scoring on its first eight possessions to take a 17-6 lead with 13:33 left in the first half, led by 14 at halftime and buried Wake Forest with a 21-6 run to start the second half to build its lead to an insurmountable 29 points.
"Give Pittsburgh a lot of credit," Bzdelik said. "They hit us right between the eyes, and we were on our heels throughout the entire game. We had some shots early on that fell for us yesterday, and didn't fall for us today."
"There was separation because of the fact we couldn't keep them off the boards, and tried a variety of defenses. We just couldn't keep them from getting to the paint. I think they had 27 points on lay ups in the first half, and we never recovered."
Coron Williams (16 points) and Codi Miller-McIntyre (10 points) were the Demon Deacons to score in double digits and had little help from their teammates.
Devin Thomas scored eight points (3-6 shooting from the field and 2-3 from the free-throw line), grabbed six rebounds, blocked a shot, turned the ball over four times in 26 minutes before fouling out with 6:34 remaining regulation after a double-double performance in Wake's ACC Tournament first round win over Notre Dame.
"We were really concerned about him," Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon. "Him and Williams were the guys we were really focused on, and Thomas was a guy we wanted to double team."
"Obviously, we came out, we were aggressive. We wanted to keep the ball out of his hands, but when he did get it, make it tough for him to play. I thought a big double team early when we got the steal, took it from him on the double team was key. I thought we did some good things to take him away from it, and I thought our defense was good on him for the most part."
Travis McKie scored an anemic two points (0-4 shooting from the field and 2-2 from the free-throw line) in what was possibly his final collegiate game.
"I'm sure Travis had a lot of emotion," Bzdelik said. "He had some looks (that) didn't go down. It's tough when you're out there and things aren't going well for you to battle through it. It's tough for Travis to have a game like this at this point."
Lamar Patterson was a load for Wake Forest, and the Demon Deacons could not find an answer for him defensively. He finished with a game-high 24 points (8-13 shooting from the field, 4-6 from three-point range and 4-4 from the free-throw line). Talib Zanna scored 17 points, and was one rebound shy of a double-double.
Raleigh native Josh Newkirk added 10 points off the bench.
Observations …
--- The Panthers took advantage of Wake's mistakes, scoring 20 points off the Deacs 14 turnovers.
--- Wake Forest tried to mask its defensive deficiencies with a zone, but Pittsburgh made 7-16 three-point attempts and drove the lane repeatedly for easy shots and layups for 40 points in the paint.
--- Pitt got a strong lift from its bench with 24 points to Wake's meager 14.
Post-game Q-&-A's …
Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik
How do you foresee the next couple of weeks going? Will you meet with Ron (Wellman)? Will you guys talk? "I'm just going to answer questions about the game."
Was this Travis and Coron's last game at Wake Forest, and would you entertain the notion of a CBI invitation? "That's for the administration. Our only focus really was today, this game. We had intentions to win it, and to not even think about a CBI, for example."
"Now, what's the administration's feel about that, I don't know, I haven't discussed that with anybody."
If you had a chance to play again, would you like to play a post-season game? "We certainly don't want to go out like this."
Wake Forest forward Travis McKie
On a possible invitation to the CBI: "I don't know. We just got to wait and see. It depends on the focal point of the team. Right now we're not very good, especially coming off a loss like that."
"I've never been in this situation. I don't know how the process works, but I think right now everybody should take a break from each other and focus on themselves and we'll come together as a group."
Wake Forest guard Codi Miller-McIntyre
Codi, you and Coron had some success getting into the lane and driving, but had little help. What would you pin point that to? "Every night it's somebody else's night."
"Yesterday it was Coron, Dev and I think Arnaud played extremely well offensively. It's just that we don't have scoring the way we want to. Other people have to find ways to make up for it."
Wake Forest forward Devin Thomas
On a possible invitation to the CBI: "Any chance you have to play basketball I think anyone should take. If we can play another game with this group of guys I'll take that 10 times out of 10."
Devin, (there are) obviously a lot of questions about Coach (Bzdelik) and if he's going to be here next year. Kind of for the record do you want him to return? "I'm forever grateful for what Coach has done. It's kind of unfair to ask that question and put that pressure on Coach, because the situation he was brought here with before we were here was a situation where he had to create a whole new foundation for the community and everything."
"I think he's shown improvement; 13 wins to 17 wins. We'll probably have 25 wins next year."
Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon
You guys got a bunch of offensive rebounds real early in the game and turned them into baskets. Did that sort of set the tone for the way that you were able to play the rest of the game? "We've made it very clear we've got to out-rebound people, and we've got to have good offense to get offensive rebound opportunities, so I thought we ran good offense, good sets against the zone and got good looks."
"I thought Talib was really good passing out of the high post area, got us some good looks. The shots we did miss, we knew they were going up, and we were able to get to that weak side and offensive rebounding position."
"I just think we moved the ball well. I was amazed at halftime at our field goal percentage was 48-percent, and I felt, like, since we'd taken all good shots, it would have been higher than that."
"But we had missed open shots, but that allowed us to get offensive rebounds. But our execution I thought was very good. Our unselfishness was evident from the start until the finish, and that allowed us to get the 14 offensive rebounds, especially the bunch early."