WINSTON-SALEM — No. 16 Louisville twice flirted with handing Wake Forest a lopsided loss only to squander leads. The good news for coach Chris Mack was the way the Cardinals responded each time.
Carlik Jones scored a season-high 23 points to help the Cardinals beat the Demon Deacons 77-65 on Wednesday night, extending their best start in Atlantic Coast Conference play.
Samuell Williamson added 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Cardinals (9-1, 4-0 ACC), who first let a 14-point lead slide all the way to four in the first half. Then, after pushing ahead by 16 after halftime, Louisville watched Wake Forest climb to within a point.
“I think it’s very evident at times that we have a very young team that will give up a couple of easy ones and allow somebody to get back in the game,” Mack said.
The Cardinals had issues with foul trouble — most notably with David Johnson picking up his fourth foul with more than 12 minutes left — as well as multiple players dealing with cramping. Yet Louisville never surrendered the lead before finally putting this one away in the final 6 minutes.
Jones said the message among the players in the huddle was “to just stick together and fight it out and dig it out, and I believe that’s what we did tonight.”
Louisville shot 51% to reach 4-0 in the league, marking the program’s best since joining the ACC before the 2014-15 season. It marked the best start in any league since for the Cardinals since winning their first eight Big East games during the 2008-09 season.
Daivien Williamson scored 19 points for the Demon Deacons (3-4, 0-4), who fell behind 50-34 lead just 90 seconds after halftime after giving up consecutive baskets off turnovers. They clawed back to within a point midway through the second half, only to go 9 1/2 minutes without a basket to squander a shot at an upset.
Wake Forest shot just 9 of 29 (31%) after halftime, including 2 of 14 from behind the 3-point arc.
“I’m going to have to go back and look, but I’m pretty sure we got a lot of wide-open looks,” first-year Wake Forest coach Steve Forbes said. “And we’ve got to make those.”
Wake Forest didn’t have freshman guard Carter Whitt, who was wearing a boot on his right leg after rolling his ankle during the day’s shootaround.
The Demon Deacons host No. 20 Virginia Tech on Sunday.
Florida State 105, NC State 73
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Rayquan Evans scored a career-high 24 points, M.J. Walker added 19 and Florida State made 70.7% of its field goals in beating NC State 105-73 on Wednesday night.
Evans was 9 of 11 from the floor and Walker 6 of 7 as Florida State finished 41 of 58, including 12 of 18 from 3-point range, to set a program best for shooting percentage in an Atlantic Coast Conference game. It was the program’s fifth-best percentage, spanning all contests, behind a 72.7% shooting performance against Minnesota in the 1979–80 season.
Florida State trailed 9-8 before scoring 31 of the next 37 points to take control. Ten different Seminoles scored during the stretch — led by Nathanael Jack’s five points. The Seminoles made 20 of 28 field goals (71.4%) in the opening 20 minutes, going 7 of 10 from 3-point range.
Jack missed just one of his eight field goals and finished with 18 points for Florida State (6-2, 2-1), which also made all 11 of its free throws.
Florida State hadn’t played since losing to Clemson on Dec. 29 because scheduled games against Duke (Jan. 2), Syracuse (Jan. 9) and Pittsburgh (Jan. 13) were postponed. The Seminoles have won 19 consecutive ACC games at the Donald L. Tucker Center, and host North Carolina on Saturday.
Thomas Allen scored 16 points with four 3-pointers for NC State (6-4, 2-3). Devon Daniels added 14 points and Jericole Hellems had 12 points and six rebounds.