Tech loses another road ACC contest

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- No. 20 Georgia Tech played hungrier, and better, than it has in three games but got nothing but another ACC road loss to show for it.

And Wake Forest got revenge.

Sixteen days after taking a 21-point loss to the chin from Tech in Atlanta, the Demon Deacons defeated Tech 75-64, overcoming a barrage of 3-point shots and keeping their cool down the stretch.

The culprits were who you would expect: Al-Farouq Aminu, piling up 19 points, and Ishmael Smith, splitting defenders for a key layup with 1:09 to go and finishing with 10 points and eight assists. That sealed the game that had slipped from Tech's grip on four consecutive possessions when the 3-pointers fell short around the four-minute mark.

The Yellow Jackets (17-8, 5-6), who made a season-high 10 3-pointers, had run out of ideas, and probably their legs. While Wake Forest flourished late behind their point guard Smith, Tech played the final 8:51 without scoring a field goal. They fell to 1-5 on the road in the ACC this season, compared to 4-1 at home, and to 5-6 in the conference overall, alone in eighth place.

Wake Forest (18-5, 8-3) is 12-1 now at Lawrence Joel Coliseum this season and in sole possession of second place in the ACC.

"I said the same thing in the locker room, we got a little 3 happy," Tech coach Paul Hewitt said. "But when you look at it again Zach Peocock had two of them wide open, top of the key, which is his favorite area. Brian Oliver had that one in transition. I'm not going to second-guess him."

The Yellow Jackets went to some extreme measures Saturday, between all the 3's and calling on junior point guard Moe Miller, who had been buried on the bench for much of the ACC season. Miller scored 12 points in 27 minutes and ran the offense for much of the game, finishing with a team-high four assists. His play in practice, and the struggles lately of Iman Shumpert (0-for-7 for zero points) and Mfon Udofia (zero points in seven minutes), got him more minutes than he'd played in all but one game this season, against Winston-Salem State.

Miller started a trend of double-digit scoring from three players off the bench. Glen Rice Jr. (14) and Oliver (12) were the others. Starter Gani Lawal led the way with 15 points and 12 rebounds.

But Miller starting forcing the issue too, driving to the lane and getting blocked by Smith, with a chance to cut Wake's lead to two points inside of four minutes.

"I felt they out-hustled us down the stretch," Lawal said. "We didn't take our time. We got a little rushed. We panicked a little bit. Especially in our sets. We had two possessions when we were down by 4, we didn't even score."

While Lawal had a double-double, Derrick Favors took three shots, scored four points and didn't make it to the free throw line. Hewitt said afterward, it wasn't all on the guards for not getting the ball down low, but that Tech didn't always have good position in the post to receive it.

"They played strong," Hewitt said of Wake's post players. "I didn't think we were quite as strong."

The Yellow Jackets made as many 3-pointers in one five-minute stretch in the first half as they usually do in a game -- six -- and got 10 points in 11 minutes off the bench from Miller in the first half.

Miller, who was averaging 2.9 points and 13.7 minutes, hadn't played in double-digit minutes in an entire ACC game since Tech opened conference play against Florida State on Dec. 20.

The Yellow Jackets shot well from the free-throw line, a place from which they had made around 50 percent in the previous three games. But the Jackets' 16-for-20 wasn't good enough Saturday night. Tech committed 17 turnovers to Wake's 12 and got  outrebounded 40-37. Wake made 7 of its last 9 free throws to finish 12-for-17.

Trying to feed the ball inside didn't work early for Tech, which committed four turnovers and scored only one field goal in the first four minutes. So the Yellow Jackets started firing from long range and couldn't miss. The Yellow Jackets made six consecutive 3-pointers to go from eight points down to up by two, 20-18. Oliver and Rice each made a pair during an 18-7 run.

The ploy didn't last, and Tech found itself down by nine again, but then turned to a different resort: more Miller. Miller scored seven points in the last three minutes of the first half to give him 10 in the first half and help Tech even the game 37-37 at halftime.

Aminu, a Norcross High graduate, had 16 points and eight rebounds in the first half alone, nearing his production of the last game against Tech (15 points, eight rebounds).

He was active inside for Wake, finishing a lot of the drives Wake made to the basket, converting three of the five dunks the Deacons had in the first half.