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February 14, 2009

Deacs deny repeat rally by Noles

A desperate Wake Forest basketball team denied Florida State a second consecutive Saturday comeback road victory against a top 10 opponent.

Looking more like the team that began the season 16-0, the No. 7 Demon Deacons raced through the 25th-ranked Seminoles 86-63 at Lawrence Joel Coliseum.

The game was never in doubt following center Solomon Alabi's ejection with 14:07 to play.

The Demon Deacons (19-4, 6-4 ACC), who had lost four of their last six, were in front 55-38 when Alabi was ejected for leveling Chas McFarland as the two big men jostled their way up the floor. Four free throws later, the Deacs held a 21-point lead that ballooned to 30 with four minutes remaining.

"Our defense wasn't there tonight," FSU senior forward Uche Echefu said. "We couldn't get any energy from our defense. Our offense struggled at times, but it start with our defense."

Wake Forest shot 49 percent from the floor and did most of its damage driving to the basket.

Toney Douglas led the foul shooting Seminoles with 22 points on 8 of 19 shooting. FSU shot just 38 percent from the floor, but were a horrid 4 of 22 (18.2 pct.) from beyond the 3-point arc.

The majority of the Seminoles' 18 turnovers seemed to come in bunches and the Deacs were more than happy to capitalize. FSU trailed 15-13 with nine minutes remaining in the first half before Wake Forest went on a 20-7 run to seize control. Guards Jeff Teague and Ishmael Smith combined for 14 points in that game-changing run, which enabled the Deacs to open up a 42-30 halftime lead.

Alabi scored four quick points to start the second half and a 3-pointer by Echefu had the 'Noles within 46-38 at the 16:23 mark before the Deacs went on a game-deciding 13-0 run. McFarland had seven points in that stretch, including two free throws after Alabi's ejection.

It didn't help that the Seminoles were outscored 32-15 at the free throw line as FSU was saddled with foul trouble. In addition to Alabi's ejection, Xavier Gibson and Echefu also fouled out, while attempting to battle Wake Forest's deep front court.

Freshman Al-Farouq Aminu led Wake Forest with 17 points, while Teague added 15. L.D. Williams finished with 12 and Smith added 11.

Echefu (11 points) was the only other double-figure scorer for the Seminoles, who return home to face Miami on Wednesday, eager to both bounce back and avenge last month's loss to the Hurricanes in Coral Gables.

"We just have to put this behind us and go on," Echefu said. "We have to watch the film and learn from our mistakes. We have to put our heads in the next game which is Miami at home."


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