N.C.-Wilmington 88, Wake Forest 120

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP)—Jeff Teague and James Johnson knew North Carolina-Wilmington wanted to turn the game into a fast-paced, never-stop-shooting romp. That suited Wake Forest’s sophomore duo just fine.

Teague scored a career-high 31 points while Johnson added 25 to help the 20th-ranked Demon Deacons beat the Seahawks 120-88 on Wednesday night, an offensive performance that ranked among the program’s best.

Chas McFarland had 19 points for the Demon Deacons (2-0), whose 120 points were tied for third-most in school history and just three points shy of breaking the record. It also was the most points ever scored by a team at Joel Coliseum. Wake Forest led almost the entire way, shot 57 percent and scored 41 points off 24 turnovers to improve to 11-0 in the series.

“I guess we showed everybody in Winston we can really score the ball,” said Teague, whose previous high was 27 points set last season against Miami. “We were getting up and down, scoring the ball, getting dunks, fast breaks and 3-pointers. That’s how you want to play. Coach (Dino) Gaudio said we were going to push it just like they were going to push it, and we did that.”

The Seahawks (2-1) had scored 100 points in each of their first two games and had rallied from double-digit deficits each time. UNC-Wilmington opened the season by rallying from a 17-point deficit in the final 6 minutes of regulation to beat Appalachian State 108-101 in overtime, then followed with a 107-95 win against Troy.

But the Demon Deacons looked plenty comfortable playing at a fast pace, weathering several spurts from the Seahawks before reaching the century mark on Teague’s driving score with 6 1/2 minutes left.

“I’m comfortable with us pushing it up like that, no question,” Gaudio said. “We want to just keep pushing the ball. We’ve got finishers. … We want to push and keep our foot on the accelerator.”

Wake Forest jumped out to a 22-point lead midway through the first half and led 61-44 at halftime. The Seahawks hung around early after the break, getting as close as 69-60 on a 3 from Johnny Wolf with 15:40 to play.

Teague quickly restored order, assisting on a dunk by L.D. Williams before draining a 3 from the corner to push the margin back to 15. Wake Forest put the game away with a 10-point burst, with Johnson finding Teague for a transition layup and Teague adding a driving basket over Dominique Lacy that helped Wake Forest take a 92-68 lead with 9 1/2 minutes left.

Wolf scored 24 points to lead the Seahawks, who shot 48 percent and hit 12 3-pointers. But they struggled to match up with Teague, Johnson and McFarland all night.

Teague went 10-for-17 from the field and 9-of-12 from the foul line while spending time defending UNC-Wilmington’s top scorer, Chad Tomko. Johnson, a versatile 6-foot-9 forward, finished a point shy of his career high and had nine rebounds, four assists, three steals and three blocks. He also logged minutes at every position except point guard.

“Whatever is needed,” Johnson said. “It’s fun when I’m remembering what to do. Other times, it’s kind of a frenzy, but I’ve just got to lock in and do the mental part and the physical part will come.”

McFarland, a 7-footer, had little trouble finishing inside against a Seahawks team that didn’t have a starter taller than 6-7. McFarland also had eight rebounds, part of the Demon Deacons’ 52-30 domination on the boards.

Wake Forest also got a solid contribution from freshman Al-Farouq Aminu, who had 11 points, 12 rebounds and five assists.

Tomko came in averaging 30 points in the first two games, but finished with seven on 3-for-13 shooting. Lacy added 20 points for UNC-Wilmington.

“We played a very, very good team,” Seahawks coach Benny Moss said. “I know they’re young, but they’re talented and they’re big. (Gaudio’s) got them playing hard. He’s got them defending. They were just too much to handle for us tonight.”

The Demon Deacons have played both games without starting point guard Ishmael Smith, who had surgery to repair a broken left foot in September. Gaudio said afterward that Smith has been cleared to do some light work in practice and that he’s hopeful the junior will be available to play Monday against crosstown program Winston-Salem State.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 N.C. Wilmington
Johnny Wolf Johnny Wolf
7-13,  24 Pts
5 Rebs, 5 Assists
 Wake Forest
James Johnson James Johnson
11-16,  25 Pts
9 Rebs, 4 Assists

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Wednesday, Nov 19