Winston-Salem, NC -Travis McKie scored the first seven points, including the go-ahead three-pointer at the 5:48 mark of the second half to lead an 11-0 run that propelled the Demon Deacons (12-14, 3-9 ACC) to a 59-50 win over Georgia Tech (9-16, 2-9 ACC).
"I thought that McKie, that was probably the fourth time this year where in winning time - the last eight or nine minutes of a close game - the other team had the toughest player on the court that made the big plays," Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory said. "Give McKie credit, he hit the big three, hit the basket off the shot clock situation on a baseline out of bounds, and he hit two free throws."
The 6-foot-7 sophomore from Richmond, Va. led all scorers with 23 points and 11 rebounds to record his fifth double-double of the season.
"You've got to see it to believe it," McKie said. "I think I just took it upon myself to be aggressive and try to make plays, and the ball went in the basket. It was a total team effort tonight. We played all 40 minutes. We executed the game-plan. We won."
Both teams shot less than 30-percent in the first half. The bad shooting trend continued into the second half, at least for the Deacs as they saw their seven-point halftime advantage evaporate.
Free throws, zone defense and rebounding favored Wake down the stretch. The Demon Deacons finished 11-12 from the charity stripe to the Yellow Jackets 5-10 effort. Wake Forest's strong interior defense and 42-32 edge on the boards limited Georgia Tech to only 20 points in the paints and just 11 second-chance points.
"We did a good job on the boards," Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "We made some timely shots when it counted and we got some timely stops defensively when it counted."
Speaking of being timely Ty Walker only scored two points, but they could not have come at a better time. With the game hanging in the balance and the shot-clock running out Walker drained a 17-foot jumper to give Wake a 49-41 stronghold over the Yellow Jackets with 2:47 left in regulation.
The Demon Deacons made their free throws to hang on, and Nikita Mescheriakov iced the game for good with some French pastry as he threw down a two-handed dunk.
Neither coach seemed to appreciate Mescheriakov's crescendo, but for Bzdelik and the Deacs it is just nice to know what it feels like to win again. The win breaks Wake Forest's six-game losing streak, and is its first home victory since upending Virginia Tech in its ACC opener Jan. 7.
"It's an excellent win for us," Bzdelik said. "I'm really proud of our young men."
Bzdelik has much to be proud about as his team scored on 10 of its final 13 possession, while the Yellow Jackets only came through on five of their last 13.