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Updated: Thursday, February 20, 2003 10:41 PM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(11) Wake Forest 75, Georgia Tech 67
WAKE FOREST DEMON DEACONS
Wake Forest Demon Deacons
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GEORGIA TECH YELLOW JACKETS
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
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ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Josh Howard did not look like he had a case of the flu.

Howard made his first eight shots and finished with 24 points as 11th-ranked Wake Forest handed Georgia Tech its first home loss, 75-67, in an Atlantic Coast Conference contest.

Wake Forest (18-4, 8-3 ACC) took over first place in the conference, moving one-half game ahead of Duke and Maryland. Howard missed practice Wednesday due to the flu but showed no ill effects as he made all five shots and scored 14 points in the first half.

Howard also came up with seven rebounds and a season-high six steals, one shy of his career high set against Georgia Tech last season.

"The guys goes 9-for-11 for 24 points, seven rebounds, six steals," Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said. "He's the Player of the Year in the league and each night he goes out and just keeps reinforcing his thought."

Justin Gray netted 20 points off the bench and Taron Downey added 10 and eight assists for Wake Forest, which improved to 3-3 in ACC road games. The Demon Deacons shot a healthy 53 percent (27-of-51) and scored 26 points in the paint.

Jamaal Levy grabbed eight rebounds as Wake Forest, the nation's best rebounding team, held a 35-32 edge on the glass.

The Demon Deacons were able to shake off a difficult week of travel. They were forced to spend an extra night at their hotel to play Monday's weather-delayed game at Maryland and had trouble getting back to school after the game. Coach Skip Prosser called off practice Tuesday to give his team a rest before it departed for Atlanta the next day.

"We've had a long week and our team is a work in progress and we have to learn how to deal with certain things," Prosser said. "We didn't deal with the adversity in terms of travel against Maryland, which is perhaps a function of youth, but I thought we dealt with it better against Georgia Tech."

Howard became the fourth player in ACC history to accumulate 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 200 assists, 200 steals and 100 blocks in his career. He joined Duke's Christian Laettner, Grant Hill and Shane Battier.

Georgia Tech (12-11, 5-7) pulled within 42-41 early in the second half on a jumper by freshman Jarrett Jack. But Howard put his personal stamp on an 8-0 tear with the first six points.

Howard scored on a smooth spin move and put home a follow shot to make it 46-41. After he had a shot blocked for his first miss, he came up with a one-handed follow slam and Downey added an uncontested layup to cap the run.

"They just played better against us," Hewitt said. "Obviously, I'm not happy about it, but you've got to give them credit."

B.J. Elder stemmed the tide with a 3-pointer for the Yellow Jackets before the Demon Deacons scored another eight straight. Freshman Chris Ellis' follow shot made it 58-44 just before the midway point of the second half.

Jack scored 19 points and had eight assists to lead Georgia Tech, which looks like it will need to win the ACC tournament to go to the NCAA Tournament. The Yellow Jackets had a 13-game home winning streak stopped.

"I think Georgia Tech is a an excellent team," Prosser said. "I think they are a tournament team. They just kept coming at you. We feel extremely fortunate to come out of here with a win and we understand it's a rarity here against coach Hewitt's team."

Wake Forest took its biggest lead at 62-46 on an inside basket by freshman Eric Williams with 8:28 left. Georgia Tech narrowed its deficit to 64-57 with an 11-2 burst before the Demon Deacons sealed the victory by making 11-of-12 at the line in the final 2:01.

While Wake went inside to build its lead, Tech used its hot perimeter game to stay close. Marvin Lewis drilled five 3-pointers and finished with 15 points as the Yellow Jackets shot 42 percent (10-of-24) from beyond the arc.

But Tech freshman center Chris Bosh was held in check and finished with 13 points and five rebounds. Bosh had 22 points and 10 rebounds in the first meeting between the teams.

"Chris Bosh is a long kid with long arms," Prosser said. "We did talk about (rebounding) at halftime with trying to make a more concerted effort to push back with our block-outs."

The Yellow Jackets shot 33 percent (11-of-33) in the first half en route to their third straight loss. Elder was Tech's fourth player in double figures with 14 points.


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