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February 20, 2008

Teague's speed fuels Wake Forest

It's a catchy nickname.

It sure caught up to Duke.

And if Wake Forest's "Speed Demons" can spring another epic upset this Sunday like they did last Sunday, it will catch on everywhere.

Jeff Teague and the Demon Deacons stunned Duke 86-73 on Sunday. Teague, a 6-foot-2 greyhound of a guard, torched the Blue Devils for 26 points, including 3-for-3 shooting from 3-point range. He had 18 points and six assists in another victory last week, a 78-71 decision at Florida State. His effort makes him Rivals.com's National Freshman of the Week for the week ending Feb. 17.

"It was a great feeling to beat Duke," Teague told Rivals.com. "They're a great team, a great program.

"We talked about stopping their penetration. DeMarcus Nelson is a great player, and he'll penetrate and kick. We talked about containing them off the dribble and playing them for the '3.' "

Duke had trouble with the speedy backcourt duo of Teague and sophomore Ishmael Smith, who've inspired the T-shirt slogan "Speed Demons" around campus. They helped force the Blue Devils into a season-high 22 turnovers and held them without a field goal for 7-plus minutes in the second half to build a double-digit lead. The Demon Deacons first pushed it to 10, 72-62, on a three-point play by Teague with 4:58 left. Duke never got closer than six the rest of the way.

Wake Forest guard Jeff Teague was named the ACC Rookie of the Week for the third time this season. He joins an illustrious list of players over the past five years who won the award at least three times in their first year. Note: Every player who's not still in the ACC is in the NBA.
NameSchoolYear No.
Tyler HansbroughNorth Carolina2005-06 10
Luol Deng Duke2003-04 6
Brandan WrightNorth Carolina2006-07 6
Chris PaulWake Forest2003-04 5
Sean SingletaryVirginia2004-05 5
Marvin WilliamsNorth Carolina2004-05 5
Cliff HammondsClemson2004-05 4
Kyle SinglerDuke2007-08 4
Javaris Crittenton Georgia Tech2006-07 3
Jon Scheyer Duke2006-07 3
J.J. HicksonN.C. State2007-08 3
Jeff TeagueWake Forest2007-08 3

"I looked up with about a minute left and we were up 10, and I knew if we kept playing defense we'd win the game," Teague said. "It was crazy when the buzzer went off. Everybody rushed the court. It's one of the best feelings I've ever had."

The victory ignited talk of the Demon Deacons reaching the NCAA Tournament. It pushed Wake above .500 in the ACC and into sole possession of fifth place (16-8 overall, 6-5 in the ACC). With the ACC ensconced at No. 1 in the conference RPI, it easily could be a five-bid league.

First-year Deacons coach Dino Gaudio has leaned on a young lineup that includes Teague (12.8 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.7 apg) and fellow freshman James Johnson, Wake's leading scorer (14.8 ppg) and rebounder (8.3).

"Ishmael and I are one of the fastest backcourts in the nation," Teague said. "Then you've got James, who's an inside-outside threat. We like the nickname 'Speed Demons.' "

Wake doesn't play this week until it visits Chapel Hill on Sunday. It's a tall order, but beating the Tar Heels would go a long way toward ensuring an NCAA invitation.

"It starts on the defensive end," Teague said. "Carolina, they lead the ACC in scoring. They put a lot of pressure on you. It's going to come down to defense."

F Anthony Randolph, LSU
The Tigers' big man posted 22 points and five rebounds in a shocking upset of Florida, and he followed with 24 points, 14 rebounds and four steals in a 67-63 loss to Kentucky. Randolph posted big second halves in both games, scoring 15 of his 22 points in the second half against the Gators and 16 of his 24 points in the final 20 minutes against the Wildcats. Randolph leads all SEC freshmen in rebounds and blocks and is in the top five in scoring and steals.
F Michael Beasley, Kansas State
Beasley opened last week with 22 points and 15 rebounds in an 84-75 loss at Texas Tech. To make sure the Wildcats didn't lose two in a row, he came back with 40 points and 17 boards in a 100-63 rout of Missouri. He shot only 42.9 percent (18 of 42) from the field, but he got to the free-throw line 29 times and knocked down 24 (82.8 percent).

A.J. Price,
G, Connecticut

If you're looking for the biggest reason the Huskies have returned to national prominence after an unexpected one-year hiatus, look no further than Price, a 6-2 junior point guard.

Price averaged 24.5 points and 8.0 assists in two victories last week as the Huskies extended their winning streak to nine games. He scored a career-high 26 points with nine assists in an 84-78 win against Notre Dame, then added 23 points with seven assists in a 74-73 overtime victory at USF.

Price has averaged 20 points in seven games against ranked opponents this season. His scoring average for the season (15.4 ppg) is up six points over last season. His assist average has gone from 3.6 to 6.2, and his shooting is up across the board. He has raised his 3-point shooting percentage by almost 12 percent.

"Price running the team I think he has been a key," Irish coach Mike Brey said. "Price has been really, really stirring the drink, so to speak."

G Tyrese Rice, Boston College
Rice averaged 30 points, 4.5 assists and 4.0 rebounds and shot 54.8 percent (23 of 42) against NC State and Virginia. The junior had a season-high 32 points to along with six assists, four rebounds and two steals in Thursday's 82-65 win over NC State. In Saturday's 79-74 loss to Virginia, Rice finished with 28 points, four rebounds and three assists.
G Greivis Vasquez, Maryland
Vasquez averaged 22.5 points, 7.5 assists and 6.0 rebounds and shot 58.1 percent (18 of 31) against Duke and Florida State. He had 25 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in Wednesday's 82-72 loss to Duke. In Saturday's 82-72 win over Florida State, Vasquez had 20 points, eight assists and four rebounds.

Marcelus Kemp
G, Nevada

Kemp, a senior, strongly considered the NBA Draft before returning for his final season. Coach Mark Fox says Kemp was pressing early without veterans Nick Fazekas and Ramon Sessions alongside. Now, the coach says, Kemp is more comfortable with his young teammates.

It all came together for Kemp, a 6-5 shooting guard, last week as he averaged 29.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists against Utah State, Boise State and Idaho. He had just two turnovers in the three games. He shot 49 percent from the field, 36.8 percent from 3-point range and 91.4 percent from the free-throw line.

Kemp scored a career-high 35 points on 9-for-17 shooting (4-for-8 from 3-point land) in Nevada's win over Utah State. He also pulled down seven rebounds and dished out a season-high six assists with no turnovers.

"Obviously, we had no answer for Kemp," Aggies coach Stew Morrill said. "You've got to guard a guy like that with the whole team and we didn't do that. We didn't switch off long enough. He's really good."

Bob McClellan is the college basketball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at bmcclellan@rivals.com.

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