Demon Deacons Down Canes

Eric Williams learned his lesson last year. Now, instead of waiting for the defense to collapse on him, he takes the ball straight to the rim with no hesitation.

"I try to mess up their timing by messing up my timing, really," Williams said. No one can argue with the results.

Williams dominated again with 23 points and 11 rebounds, and reserve Trent Strickland added a season-high 13 points to help fifth-ranked Wake Forest beat Miami 94-82 Saturday despite getting only eight points from Chris Paul.

In his past three games, the Big E has averaged 26 points while making 75 percent of his shots (33-of-44). He was at his best in this one down the stretch, scoring 17 after halftime.

"It's tough to have a presence in the post when your post has no presence," Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser said. "He's gotten better at demanding the ball, and our guys want to throw it to him."

Justin Gray finished with 20 points and the Demon Deacons (17-3, 5-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) cruised in the second half to improve to 10-0 at home less than 48 hours after a heartbreaking, overtime loss at Georgia Tech. Jamaal Levy scored 15 points.

"It hurts to lose, but you can't keep thinking about it," Williams said. "Even the way we lost, we took something positive out of the way we fought back. You can't let one game affect the next one."

A winter storm dropped several inches of snow and ice in Winston-Salem, leaving several hundred empty seats at Lawrence Joel Coliseum. Wake Forest's defense also was a no-show in the first half, allowing the Hurricanes (13-6, 4-4) to shoot 56 percent - including 91 percent (10-of-11) on 3-pointers - and take a 49-48 lead at the break.

"After the first half, I started wondering if they'd ever miss," Strickland said. "But like Coach says, you have to make them miss, not hope they miss."

Miami point guard Anthony Harris, averaging 12.4 points coming in, beat that total about 10 minutes into the game and had 18 of his career-high 28 in the opening 20 minutes. Guillermo Diaz added 14 of his 21 before the half.

"In a big game like this, you just have to step up," said Harris, whose previous best was 25 against Florida International earlier this season. "Chris Paul, he's probably going to win player of the year, so I had to show that I'm a good player, too."

It was tied at 63 before the Deacons finally took control. Williams started a 16-4 run with a dunk in traffic, and Chris Ellis added one of his own about a minute later. Paul and Gray added 3-pointers, and Strickland drove for an acrobatic layup to put Wake Forest ahead 74-65.

Williams' hook from in close increased the margin to 12, and Ellis later made his only 3 of the game to make it 84-69, forcing a timeout by Miami coach Frank Haith with about six minutes left. It wasn't a very good homecoming for Haith, the first-year head coach who spent five seasons as an assistant at Wake Forest earlier in his career.

"They got away from us in the second half," Haith said. "They hit a couple of 3s, but they really got it inside. When they got the ball inside, they had better execution."

With shots going in from all over the court in the opening half, Haith must have been thinking about getting a victory in his return. Diaz was 4-of-4 from beyond the arc, Robert Hite was 2-for-2, Harris went 3-of-4 and even Raymond Hicks contributed his first 3-pointer of the season.

He banked in an awkward looking jumper from the wing to give the Hurricanes a 46-39 lead with 4 minutes left in the half. At one point, the Deacons were shooting 80 percent - and trailing by a point.

They closed the half on a 9-3 run, capped by a layup from Levy, to cut Miami's lead to one.

"I didn't know until I looked at the stats," Haith said of the shooting performance in the first half. "I think what you do know is that you're not going to do that in the second half."

He was right. Miami was only 3-of-14 from outside after the break and 36 percent overall, while Wake Forest shot a season-high 61 percent.

Hite came off the bench for the first time this season and added 18 for the Hurricanes. He was late for practice Friday and was benched for the first 2 minutes.

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