Winston-Salem, NC -Ty Walker's absence in the second half fueled No. 23 Florida State's (14-6, 5-1 ACC) inside dominance that led to an easy 75-52 rout of Wake Forest (11-9, 2-4 ACC).
The 7-footer from Wilmington suffered a concussion at the 9:50 mark of the first half. Walker returned to the game, but was forced to sit out after his symptoms worsened.
He was scoreless in 15 minutes of action, but was an imposing defensive presence with four blocks. Walker also pulled down four rebounds.
"We didn't attack the basket nearly as well as we have in some other games," Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton said. "I think a lot of it was because of Walker's presence back there, and unfortunately they lost him. Our intentions in the second half were to go inside, and him not being there made it a little more convenient for us."
Walker's concussion left the Deacs with Carson Desrosiers to carry the fight, but it was more like the white flag as he finished with an anemic one rebound to go with no points and three fouls. Combine those factors with 18 turnovers and Travis McKie's cold shooting (1-13 FG's and 0-4 from 3-Pt for three points) against a team that is as strong defensively as FSU is and was a pathway to destruction.
"They wore us down with their depth, and they wore us down inside," Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "We got a little soft defensively. We had open shots. We had a lot of open shots, but they never went down. Then, combine that with the fact that we had some unforced turnovers such as some careless passing and not playing off two feet."
The Demon Deacons flew out of the gate at the start of the second half with a 7-2 run to trim its six-point halftime deficit down to 30-28 with 19:04 left to play, causing Hamilton to call a timeout.
FSU instantly rose from its slumber to hammer Wake with a 14-2 run culminated by two three pointers from Michael Snaer (18 points) to put the Noles in command for good.
"We weren't stopping them inside, and we weren't stopping them outside," Bzdelik said. "We just softened up a lot."
Softened up is right. The Demon Deacons were outscored 40-16 in the paint and were outrebounded 34-28.
C.J. Harris led Wake Forest with 16 points, while Nikita Mescheriakov added 13 points and Tony Chennault scored in double figures for the third straight game with 11. That was all canceled out by McKie's lack of production and a bench that was outscored 30-9 by the Noles.