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Harris sparks Wake Forest to easy win over Virginia Tech

The SportsXchange

Winston-Salem, N.C. -- Before playing his final game at Joel Coliseum Sunday, Wake Forest guard C.J. Harris was asked by coach Jeff Bzdelik to give some encouraging words to his team.

His response?

"Just go out and win," Harris said.

The Demon Deacons responded with their most complete offensive performance of the year. Paced by Harris' 29 points, which tied a career high, Wake Forest led wire-to-wire in a 90-79 rout of Virginia Tech in a game that was never close.

Wake Forest shot 59.2 percent from the floor and finished with 21 assists on 29 made baskets. The Deacons' 90 points were a season high and their nine made 3-pointers tied a season high.

"We just ran our offense efficiently," Harris said. "It wasn't anything they did wrong. We just did a good job, moving the ball and sharing the ball. Everybody was unselfish today. And we got wide open shots."

The Demon Deacons (13-17, 6-12 Atlantic Coast Conference) secured the No. 10 seed for the upcoming ACC Tournament, which begins Thursday in Greensboro. Wake Forest will open tourney play against seventh-seeded Maryland at 7:30 p.m.

Virginia Tech (13-18, 4-14 ACC) finished alone in last place and will face either Virginia or North Carolina State at 2:30 p.m. Thursday.

Harris, the Demon Deacons' lone scholarship senior, went 8 of 14 from the floor and knocked down all six of his 3-point attempts, helping Wake Forest build a 16-point first-half lead.

"He's a tough matchup for us," Virginia Tech coach James Johnson said. "All year long, that other guard position, we haven't been able to defend well. ... He got off to a good start. We put [Marquis] Rankin on him but he was already hot. As good of a player as he is, once he gets going, he's tough to stop."

Devin Thomas added 17 points and eight rebounds, and Arnaud Adala Moto added 16 points for the Demon Deacons, who went 11-4 at home this season

Erick Green, who entered Sunday as the nation's leading scorer at 25.0 points per game, tied his career high and led Virginia Tech with 35 points. Marquis Rankin scored a career-high 15 points for the Hokies. Jarell Eddie added 13.

The Demon Deacons led by double digits less than four minutes into the game, going up 14-4 on Thomas' 3-point play. The Hokies, who finished with just four ACC wins for the second straight year, showed little spark early despite having four days off since a loss at Duke.

After Harris hit a 3-pointer with 14:45 left in the first half to put the Demon Deacons up 17-6, they led by double digits the rest of the half. Chase Fischer's 3-pointer right in front of the Virginia Tech bench stretched the lead to 38-22 with 2:12 left in the half.

"We had no energy, no energy at all," Green said. "Give credit to Wake Forest. They punched us in the mouth. We didn't respond. We've got to wake up, man. Come Thursday night, everybody is playing for one thing, and that's a championship. If we don't come ready to play, we're going to get embarrassed."

Wake Forest led 41-27 at halftime. The Demon Deacons scored the first five points of the second half to push the lead to 19, the last three coming on a 3-point play from Adala Moto.

The Demon Deacons took their biggest lead less than two minutes into the second half, going up by 21 on a Harris 3-pointer with 18:45 left.

"When we're operating on all cylinders, we can play with anybody in the country," Bzdelik said. "We've had some moments."

NOTES: Hokies forward Marshall Wood got kicked in the head in the first half in a scramble for a loose ball and left the game briefly with dizziness before returning later in the half. ... Green broke Virginia Tech's single-season scoring record by scoring his 786th point, one more than Bimbo Coles scored in the 1989-90 season. ... Wake Forest guard Codi Miller-McIntyre returned after missing Tuesday's game at North Carolina State with strep throat, but Madison Jones remained in the starting lineup. Miller-McIntyre scored 10 points and added four assists.
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