WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP)—Jeff Teague has a knack for sending the basketball just about anywhere on the court, and that’s not always a good thing for Wake Forest.
This time, the sometimes-turnover-prone point guard stuck to sending it through the rim.
Teague scored 15 of his 26 points in the second half to lead the 15th-ranked Demon Deacons past Bucknell, 81-52 on Saturday night.
And perhaps more importantly, Teague was careful with the ball. After turning it over a combined 12 times in the Demon Deacons’ last two wins, he broke down his recent sloppy play with a member of the team’s support staff.
That helped Wake Forest improve its giveaway totals from a season-high 24 last time out against Indiana to just 11 against the Bison.
“I looked at some of my turnovers, and I was jumping in the air, trying to make passes, trying to get the alley-oop dunks,” Teague said, adding that the staff member “just told me to calm down, that it’ll come, and tonight I did pretty good taking care of the ball.”
L.D. Williams added 13 points for the Demon Deacons (8-0), who never trailed in continuing their best start since opening with 11 straight wins when Chris Paul was a freshman in 2003-04.
Teague, who averages a team-best 20 points, was 9-of-14 from the field in reaching double figures for the 27th time in 30 games, dating to their last win over Bucknell in December 2007. It was his fourth 20-point game of the season.
“I just said, ‘I have tremendously high expectations for you, and I know you do as well,”’ Wake Forest coach Dino Gaudio said he told Teague.
Point guard Darryl Shazier scored 12 points—all from 3-point range—to lead perimeter-oriented Bucknell (1-6), which lost its third straight and was denied its first victory over an Atlantic Coast Conference team since 1961.
Wake Forest became the second ACC team to beat the Bison by 29 points— Maryland also won 81-52 in last month’s opener—while their remaining four losses came against fellow mid-majors by a combined 20 points.
“We played pretty well in stretches, but their size and athleticism wore us down,” first-year Bucknell coach Dave Paulsen said.
Leading scorer Justin Castleberry was held to six points—nine below his average—on 2-of-13 shooting. Bucknell’s three starting guards finished a combined 10-for-39, and the Bison missed 10 of their 12 3-pointers after halftime.
“We knew they were going to run time off the clock,” Gaudio said. “We had to be disciplined in our half-court defense, and did a better job in the second half of cutting down their 3s.”
With its four key players 6-foot-11 or taller, Wake Forest established itself largely by pounding the ball inside, drawing contact and knocking down enough free throws.
The Demon Deacons were 16-of-27 from the line while Bucknell finished just 4-of-9, and they were in the bonus 5 minutes into the second half—before they were called for their first foul.
Then, Wake Forest warmed up from 3-point range to give itself plenty of separation, knocking down three straight midway through the half—including two by Teague 30 seconds apart.
Those 3s came near the end of the 25-10 run that gave the Demon Deacons their first 20-point lead, and came after they missed 10 of its first 12 3-pointers.
“It’s kind of hard not to shoot a 3 when you’re open, but we know that’s not the focal point of our offense—obviously, we want to get to the basket and make more free throws than the other team attempts,” Williams said. “It’s definitely frustrating, but just the way that they play offense, it hinders our offense because they make you guard the whole shot clock.”
Wake Forest initially had trouble putting the jump-shooting Bison away, before figuring them out and holding them to one field goal during the final 6 minutes of the first half. Six of Bucknell’s eight field goals in the half came from 3-point range.
Bucknell got no closer in the second half than 36-29 on Bryan Cohen’s jumper 40 seconds in, before Williams reeled off five quick points to start the Demon Deacons’ overwhelming run.
“You’re not going to keep a team like Wake Forest under control all the time,” Paulsen said.