WINSTON-SALEM — There was no slowing down Georgia Tech guards Michael Devoe and Jose Alvarado on Wednesday night at Wake Forest. Not even a knee injury that sent Devoe to the bench for the final three minutes of the first half could do the trick.
Devoe scored 24 points — 16 in the second half — and Alvarado added 22 to lead the Yellow Jackets to an 86-79 victory.
The Tech guards consistently penetrated into the lane to score and set up teammates for dunks and easy baskets.
“We were just making good reads and trying to do what it takes for the team to win,” said Devoe, who was down on the court for a few minutes while a trainer examined his tweaked knee. Sometimes, one of us plays really well. Tonight, we put it together.”
The Jackets (13-13, 7-8 ACC) squandered a 13-point first-half lead. But Devoe and Alvarado dominated down the stretch. Devoe finished with five assists and Alvarado had four.
“To win in college basketball, it’s all about guard play,” Tech coach Josh Pastner said. “Alvarado and Devoe played at a high level.”
Wake guards Brandon Childress and Jahcobi Neath led the Deacons (11-15, 4-12) with 16 points apiece.
After a cold start, both teams’ offenses heated up. Tech shot 52% from the field. Wake shot 49%. Tech was 29 of 39 at the foul line while Wake was 24 of 33.
Moses Wright added 14 points and Jordan Usher had 10 for the Jackets.
Chaundee Brown scored 13 for Wake, and Olivier Sarr and Ismael Massoud had 11 apiece.
Wake tied the score at 65 with 5:13 to play on Sarr’s dunk.
But Evan Cole made two free throws, and Devoe dunked home a rebound to put the Jackets ahead by four. A dunk by Cole and a free throw from Bubba Parham gave the Jackets a 77-70 lead with 1:40 to play.
Wake pulled within 78-74 on Isaiah Mucius’ 3-pointer with 55 seconds remaining. But ahead by six, Tech sealed the victory on Cole’s steal with 32 seconds remaining.
Tech scored nine straight points en route to a 16-3 run to race out to a 13-point lead late in the first half. But Wake used a 7-2 run to pull within 37-29 at halftime.
The Deacons reeled off nine straight points to start the second half and grabbed the lead.
But a pair of dunks by Cole and another by Moses Wright helped the Jackets take a 46-40 lead with 14:06 left.
Before the game, Wake Forest added a banner bearing the likeness of former coach Dave Odom to the rafters at Joel Coliseum. Odom, who coached at the school from 1989-2001, guided Tim Duncan and the Deacons to back-to-back ACC Tournament titles in 1995 and 1996. The late Skip Prosser is the only other Wake coach accorded the honor.
Former Wake stars Rodney Rogers and Josh Howard were also in attendance for the festivities.
Georgia Tech: The Jackets needed the victory in their quest to avoid a first-round ACC Tournament game — if the NCAA doesn’t rule against their appeal to a postseason ban. The Jackets’ guard play and momentum from recent victories over NC State, Virginia Tech and Louisville make them a potentially dangerous ACC Tournament team.
Wake Forest: The Deacons, who lost by 17 to Miami on Saturday, squandered a great opportunity at home with a big crowd on hand to honor Odom. Speculation about coach Danny Manning’s future is likely to increase. Pastner’s opened his post-game interview by praising Manning’s coaching ability.
Devoe and Alvarado combined to shoot 13 of 24 from the field and 17 of 20 from the foul line with nine assists. Childress was 6-for-15 (0-for-5 from 3-point range) from the field with six turnovers and only one assist.
Georgia Tech: Cole, who averaged less than 13 minutes, scored nine points with seven rebounds and a key steal in almost 20 minutes.
Wake Forest: Neath, who averaged less than 16 minutes playing time entering the game, was impressive in more than 27 minutes. He made 5 of 6 shots, including his only 3-point attempt, and had a team-high three assists.
Georgia Tech: The Jackets play at Syracuse on Feb. 22.
Wake Forest: The Deacons are home against Duke on Feb. 25.
Achiuwa’s 24 lifts Memphis past East Carolina
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Precious Achiuwa scored 24 points and grabbed 12 rebounds and Boogie Ellis hit the clinching free throw with 8.3 seconds left as Memphis edged East Carolina 77-73 on Wednesday night.
The Pirates battled back from a 16-point second-half deficit to tie the score three times, the first with 6:23 to play. But after tying the game at 69, Ellis and Achiuwa scored inside to give the Tigers a 73-69 lead going into the final minute.
ECU made one free throw and Memphis three of four for a 76-70 lead. Bitumba Baruti nailed a 3-pointer for the Pirates with 10.3 seconds to play but Ellis made it a two-possession game.
Ellis had 17 points for Memphis (18-8, 7-6 American Athletic Conference).
Tristen Newton tied a season high with 23 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for his first double-double for the Pirates (10-17, 4-10). Jayden Gardner added 16 points and Bitumba Baruti 14.
Memphis matches up against Houston at home on Saturday. East Carolina plays Temple at home on Sunday.
Miller leads in OT, helps UNCG beat Wofford
GREENSBORO — Isaiah Miller scored eight of his 15 points in overtime and UNC Greensboro beat Wofford 83-79 on Wednesday night for its fifth straight win.
Kaleb Hunter led the Spartans (22-6, 12-3 Southern Conference) with 21 points. Kyrin Galloway added 14 points. James Dickey had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Nathan Hoover had 24 points for the Terriers (16-12, 8-7), whose losing streak stretched to four games. Chevez Goodwin added 15 points. Tray Hollowell had 13 points.
The game was tied 59-59 with 4:20 to play. Goodwin’s layup with 2:50 left gave Wofford the lead. Miller’s layup with 13 seconds to go forced overtime tied at 61.
The Spartans leveled the season series against the Terriers with the win. Wofford defeated UNC Greensboro 98-92 on Jan. 4. UNC Greensboro matches up against VMI on the road on Saturday. Wofford faces Furman on the road on Saturday.
VMI best Western Carolina
CULLOWHEE — Travis Evee had 25 points as VMI narrowly beat Western Carolina 74-71 on Wednesday night.
Jake Stephens had 13 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four blocks for VMI (8-20, 3-12 Southern Conference). Kamdyn Curfman added 11 points. Garrett Gilkeson had 10 points and seven rebounds.
Onno Steger had 18 points for the Catamounts (16-10, 8-7). Mason Faulkner added 17 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Travion McCray had 14 points.
The Keydets leveled the season series against the Catamounts with the win. Western Carolina defeated VMI 97-85 on Jan. 8. VMI matches up against UNC Greensboro at home on Saturday. Western Carolina takes on The Citadel at home on Saturday.