Wake Forest gets by The Citadel 82-54
It took a few games for Wake Forest's Coron Williams to find his touch from 3-point range.
Now that he's hitting the 3, Williams has helped the Demon Deacons to get off to their best start in five years.
Williams hit four 3-pointers and scored 12 points, as Wake Forest overcame first-half shooting problems to beat The Citadel 82-54 on Thursday night.
Devin Thomas added 11 points and Travis McKie 10 for the Demon Deacons (5-0), who won their final tuneup game before playing No. 2 Kansas in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament next week in the Bahamas.
"We've beat the teams that we should've beat," said Williams, a fifth-year transfer from Robert Morris. "Now we're really going to see what our team is made of — being on the road finally, and getting out of our comfort zone. We're going to see how tough our young guys are."
Brian White scored 18 points and Matt Van Scyoc added 12 for the Bulldogs (2-4), who shot just 35.8 percent (19 of 53), turned the ball over 16 times and were outrebounded 45-34 by Wake Forest.
Those numbers helped the Demon Deacons — who last opened with five consecutive wins in 2008 — overcome 36.4 percent shooting (12 of 33) from the field and 6 of 14 from the line in the first half.
"We were a little slow getting out of the gate," Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "We had a lot of missed layups and missed free throws. ... (But) there were a lot of good things that we did."
The Demon Deacons finished with a 14-9 advantage in points off turnovers, an 11-2 edge in second-chance points (thanks to a 17-7 advantage in offensive rebounds) and outscored The Citadel 16-0 on fast-break opportunities.
Wake Forest shot 43.8 percent (28 of 64) from the field for the game, its first game above 40 percent in its last three games. The Demon Deacons also hit 9-of-18 3-pointers, their best showing of the season.
"I was hoping we could keep it a little closer," Bulldogs head coach Chuck Driesell said. "We just didn't make shots. We did a decent job of defending them, but they did shoot well from the 3. We were hoping that they wouldn't tonight, but they did."
Despite the shooting problems, Wake Forest fought off a late Bulldogs run to take a 34-27 lead at the half. The Demon Deacons then pushed their lead into double digits in the opening minutes of the second half.
For that, they can thank Williams, who was a combined 0 for 7 on 3-pointers in his first two games in a Wake Forest uniform. In the last three games, he's 14 of 27 — the first Demon Deacons player to hit 14 3s in a three-game stretch since Justin Gray made 15 in 2005.
"I was rushing my shot the first few games," said Williams, a career 42.3 percent 3-point shooter at Robert Morris. "Once I got a little comfortable with where I would get shots from, I slowed down. But when teams play zone, that helps a lot."
Williams helped Wake Forest put the game away midway through the second half, hitting three 3-pointers during an 18-3 run, which put the Demon Deacons ahead 75-47 with 4:16 remaining.
"We struggled offensively in the first half and it was a close game," McKie said. "In the second half, we wanted to come out and get a great start, and put the first half behind us. We made a run in the second half and we were able to sustain it."
Wake Forest's shooting problems began early in the first half, scoring just six points in the first 4 minutes against the pesky Bulldogs.
A brief hot streak led to a 10-2 run by the Demon Deacons, with a pair of free throws by Thomas putting Wake Forest ahead 16-6 — its first double-digit lead — with 11:26 left.
The Demon Deacons' shooting touch wouldn't last long, however, and neither would their double-digit lead. The Citadel fought back to cut the margin to two points, 29-27, on White's layup with 2:19 remaining.
Wake Forest made just 2 of its last 11 shots in the period, including a run of six straight missed layups leading up to White's basket.
But Thomas ended the run with a layup at the 2-minute mark to push the Demon Deacons' lead back to four, and Tyler Cavanaugh hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to put Wake Forest up by seven points at the break.