WINSTON-SALEM--Wake Forest used a 10-0 run over the last two minutes of the first half and pulled away in the second en route to a 98-71 rout over VMI at Joel Coliseum on Tuesday night. Sophomore guard Codi Miller-McIntyre scored 23 points in the win, besting his previous career high of 21. Fellow sophomore Devin Thomas added 20 points and 17 rebounds at halftime, as the Keydets never found an answer for the Deacs' fast-paced attack.
"Last year what happened was that I would disappear for one half, and I'd show up for three minutes, four minutes the next half," Miller-McIntyre said. "I asked Randolph Childress how he put halves together like that. He just said to calm yourself down, think the game slowly and play it in your mind. That's kind of what I did coming into this game."
Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik praised his charges for executing the game plan and their ability to continuously attack the rim. Getting the Keydets into a transition game through strong defense was essential to the strategy for Tuesday's game.
"We're a handful in the open court, we really are," Bzdelik said. "We've got a team built to do that. I like the fact that we were unselfish- 20 assists on 34 baskets. We had 4 guys in double-digits. Our strength is our depth and everybody should contribute."
The Deacons attacked the rim with a controlled ferocity, accumulating 58 points in the paint, 26 off the fast break. Thomas and Miller-McIntyre were largely a two-man show in the first half, accounting for 35 of Wake Forest's 44 points. They got some help in the second half, as Travis McKie and Tyler Cavanaugh added 11 points apiece.
"We started off slow again, but we pushed through," Cavanaugh said. "All the guys played their role tonight. Codi and Devin were effective from the beginning, so we've got to ride them like Coach said, when they're hot. I think we've just go to keep getting better."
The Deacs struggled early, especially behind the three-point and free throw lines, and allowed too many easy VMI baskets through much of the first half. Eventally the Demon Deacon fast break lead by Miller-McIntyre was too much for the visitors from Virginia to handle.
The much-heralded VMI offense, near the top of NCAA scoring record books for much of the past decade, never could establish a rhythm, shooting just 28.6% for the game. Wake Forest's perimeter defense had a much stronger showing from the season opener against Colgate, especially in the second half. While VMI attempted 30 3-point shots, they connected on only 9 for the game.
"I thought we switched more tonight and guarded the three a lot better," Cavanaugh said. "We got back on D because they're a transition team. (It was mostly) playing with intensity and communication."
The Deacs next face Presbyterian on Friday night at LJVM Coliseum. Tip time for that game is 7:00 p.m.