WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP)—Wake Forest came into the season with a young roster that featured just two seniors, but the Demon Deacons are growing up quickly.
Vytas Danelius scored 18 points and Josh Howard added 17 to lead the No. 25 Demon Deacons to a 104-64 victory over North Carolina A&T on Saturday.
Freshmen Justin Gray and Eric Williams each added 13 points for the Demon Deacons (7-0), who are off to one of their best starts in the last decade. Wake Forest started the season 13-0 in 1996-97 and 12-0 in 2000-01.
The Demon Deacons are doing it with a starting lineup featuring two freshmen and two sophomores.
“It’s a sign of them growing,” said Howard, a senior who also had four rebounds and three assists in 24 minutes. “If they keep growing, we’re going to keep winning.”
Wake Forest hadn’t played since beating St. John’s 84-72 on Dec. 21, and the coaching staff gave the team a four-day break for the holidays. But the Demon Deacons showed few signs of rust.
They shot 54 percent and hit nine 3-point field goals—both season highs— while scoring 50 points in the paint against the undersized Aggies. They converted 18 turnovers into 30 points.
Wake Forest, which entered the game outrebounding its opponents by an average of 17 boards, finished with a 43-33 advantage on the boards.
Steven Koger scored 14 points for the winless Aggies (0-6), who lost their third straight game to an in-state Atlantic Coast Conference team. North Carolina A&T lost to N.C. State 101-63 on Dec. 14 and lost to Duke 91-57 three days later.
The Aggies have been outscored by an average of 30 points this year.
“(The Demon Deacons) are so good that when you decide you don’t want to match the intensity they’re giving and you’re careless with the ball, they make you pay for it,” Aggies coach Curtis Hunter said.
Hunter never lost to Wake Forest as a player at North Carolina from 1984-87, but his Aggies were never in this one.
North Carolina A&T trailed by 10 points in the first four minutes and faced a 23-point deficit in the first half.
Wake Forest led 51-33 at halftime and methodically increased its lead in the second half. The Demon Deacons surpassed 100 points when Steve Lepore completed a three-point play with 32.1 seconds left.
But coach Skip Prosser never stopped teaching his young team, which opens ACC play at No. 3 Duke on Jan. 12. After a defensive mix up allowed Landon Beckwith an uncontested 3-pointer with 20 seconds left before halftime, Prosser called timeout to reset the defense.
During an offensive play in the second half, he yelled from the sideline for Danelius to move to the high post. Danelius did, caught the ball and drained a straightaway 3-pointer.
“I know there’s a lot of (coaches) trying to teach,” Prosser said. “Hopefully they’re learning. We’ll know better down the road.”
Wake Forest hit five of its first six shots and took an 11-1 lead on an inside basket by Williams with 16:15 left in the half. North Carolina A&T missed its first six shots and committed four turnovers.
The Aggies got their first field goal when Joe Holmes hit the first of consecutive 3-point shots five minutes in.
But Wake Forest used a 10-0 run midway through the half, punctuated by Gray’s backdoor lob to Trent Strickland for a 34-15 lead with 9:23 remaining in the half.
Wake Forest hit 16 of its first 24 shots and shot 56 percent in the first half. The Aggies shot 41 percent, but outrebounded the Demon Deacons 19-15 in the period.