WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina (Ticker) - Chris Paul gave Wake Forest the weapon it needed to beat Cincinnati.
The freshman guard scored a season-high 30 points on 10-of-14 shooting as the 18th-ranked Demon Deacons posted a 91-85 victory over No. 12 Cincinnati.
"It was a quality win and we needed it," said Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser, who watched his team lose six of nine games after an 11-0 start.
The Bearcats had won all five previous meetings, including a 103-94 victory here on February 9, 2002. That was the Demon Deacons' last home non-conference loss.
The teams played another high-scoring affair on Sunday, but this time Wake Forest (15-6) had Paul, who found the quick pace to his liking and scored 18 points above his season average.
"He (Paul) destroyed us," Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins said. "He took the ball to the goal anytime he felt like it."
Paul also hurt Cincinnati (17-4) from the perimeter, making all three of his 3-pointers. Wake Forest shot 67 percent from the arc (10-of-15) and Paul also made all seven of his free-throw attempts and grabbed seven rebounds.
"It was an NCAA-type game," said Paul, a four-time winner of the Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Week award. "It's hard to rank our wins, but this one will give us momentum."
Paul sure hopes it does since the Demon Deacons host top-ranked Duke on Wednesday. They lost at Duke, 84-72 on January 17.
Reserve Tony Bobbitt led Cincinnati with 23 points, nine over his scoring average.
Huggins missed two days of practice due to flu-like symptoms and did not join the team until Sunday morning. The pace of the first half alone probably made him dizzy.
Cincinnati raced to a 14-5 lead, but Wake Forest responded with a 16-5 spurt. The Bearcats answered with a 20-6 run as Bobbitt hit a pair of 3-pointers to build a 39-27 lead.
The Demon Deacons then closed the half with a 20-3 spurt as Justin Gray and Paul each hit 3-pointers in the final 1:22, giving them a 47-42 lead.
A 3-pointer by Vytas Danelius gave Wake Forest its biggest lead at 68-55 with 11:50 left.
Cincinnati pulled within 83-77 on a 3-pointer by Field Williams with 3:52 remaining, but got no closer. Paul helped to seal the win with a layup and a pair of free throws in the final 66 seconds.