WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Josh Howard won his duel with Tim Pickett down the stretch.
Howard scored 10 of his 24 points in the final four minutes as No. 18 Wake Forest stretched its home winning streak to 12 games with a 71-60 Atlantic Coast Conference victory over Pickett and Florida State.
The game was billed as a matchup between Howard, an All-ACC Second Team selection a year ago, and Pickett, a junior college product averaging 17.4 points per game. Pickett did his part with 24 of his 27 points in the second half.
Howard's two free throws with 3:52 left gave Wake Forest (13-2, 3-2 ACC) a 56-52 lead, and he drained a 3-pointer on the next possession. Pickett answered with a layup before Howard set a perfect screen for Taron Downey, who nailed a 3-pointer for a 62-54 advantage with 2:21 to go.
"The game was hanging in the precipice and was there to be taken by the throat," Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser said. "Guys either make plays or they don't. Josh hit a big three and we made some plays and were able to survive."
Pickett responded with a 3-pointer before Howard made a pair at the line and added a dunk to put away the game.
"Josh Howard started off slow today, but down the stretch he strapped it on and turned into Superman for us," Downey said. "We really got it going when Josh hit the big three toward the end of the game."
Florida State (10-7, 1-5) dropped its 11th straight ACC road game. But the Seminoles were much more competitive than their last two visits to Joel Coliseum in which they lost by a combined 44 points.
"You have to make baskets," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. "We got good looks and good opportunities, but we had several opportunities that we didn't finish."
Howard made 6-of-11 shots and led a big effort for Wake Forest at the foul line by draining 10-of-12 attempts. The Demon Deacons shot nearly 88 percent (21-of-27) while the Seminoles were less frequent visitors to the line and made 4-of-7.
But the Demon Deacons again struggled without freshman point guard Justin Gray, who missed his fourth straight game with a broken jaw. Without its primary ballhandler, Wake Forest has struggled with turnovers and Howard had seven of the team's 19.
"It was a hard-fought game, obviously, but I don't think we'll be sending a tape of it to Springfield," Prosser said. "It wasn't vintage Josh but he's played so well for us in so many big games that I think he's entitled to maybe one less than spectacular performance."
Vytas Danelius did not start because he missed the morning shootaround but scored 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting off the bench for Wake Forest. Freshman Eric Williams grabbed 10 rebounds as the Demon Deacons held a 41-30 edge on the glass.
Wake Forest controlled Pickett early as it built an 18-9 lead on Howard's dunk with 5:50 left before halftime. Pickett nailed a 3-pointer to trigger a 12-1 run as Florida State grabbed a 21-19 edge on freshman Todd Galloway's layup with 2:48 remaining.
Williams made a free throw, Downey drilled a 3-pointer and Williams went inside for a hoop and a 25-21 lead. The Demon Deacons took a 27-23 edge into halftime.
"We got beat by a team that is better than us at this point," Hamilton said. "I have to give them credit."
Florida State shot just under 40 percent (25-of-63) and Michael Joiner was the only other Seminole in double figures with 11 points.