WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Returning home could not guarantee a win for Texas coach Rick Barnes and sophomore P.J. Tucker.
Chris Paul scored 23 points and Eric Williams added 17 of his 19 in the second half to lift fifth-ranked Wake Forest to an 89-88 victory over No. 12 Texas.
Both natives of North Carolina, Barnes absorbed his first loss to the Demon Deacons as the coach of the Longhorns despite Tucker tying a career high with 27 points. Last season, Texas knocked off Wake Forest, 94-81, in Austin behind 21 points from Tucker.
In a back-and-forth affair that featured numerous fouls, the Demon Deacons (9-1) took a slim lead when Vytas Danelius scored on a reverse layup for an 81-80 advantage. Paul added a pair of free throws 14 seconds later to push the lead to 83-80 with 3:18 remaining.
Gray added a jumper more than two minutes later and Wake Forest converted 4-of-6 free throws in the final 52 seconds to seal its fourth straight win since being pounded, 91-73, by Illinois on December 1.
"I thought we really beat a very good Texas team," Demon Deacons coach Skip Prosser said. "We didn't guard them as well as we would have liked to, but they are very hard to guard. They are strong inside, their guards are very quick shooting the ball. (Daniel) Gibson looked like Allen Iverson for a stretch in the second half."
The Longhorns had a chance for the win in the closing seconds when Tucker rebounded a free throw miss by Williams, dribbled to half court and passed to Paulino, whose 17-foot jumper hit off the back of the rim as the buzzer sounded.
"We wanted P.J. Tucker to take it to the basket, that was the idea," Barnes said. "When he didn't, I could have called a time out, I told the guys I would take the wrap on that one, but it was not that possession that lost the game. Again, we cannot go five possessions without penetrating inside, and that is really where we lost this one."
Paul shot 7-of-11 from the field and handed out a career-high 12 assists, the most in a game since Muggsy Bogues had 14 against Charlotte on February 14, 1987. The 6-1 sophomore, who had the previous high of 11 against Elon on Wednesday, has recorded 31 assists against nine turnovers in his last three games.
Bogues, a 14-year NBA veteran with the Charlotte Hornets and three other teams, was in the stands to cheer on his alma mater.
A Naismith candidate, Paul had a pair of outstanding spin moves just 17 seconds apart in the second half, including whirling layup that gave Wake Forest a 77-76 edge with 6:29 left.
"I am not the sharpness knife in the drawer, but the point guard's job is to have his team win the game," Prosser said. "We do not win every game, and I never said we would, but (Paul) is like a quarterback in football. We have played 10 games, four against nationally ranked teams, and he has won nine of them. I never felt like he was struggling."
Williams, who opened the second half with seven of the Demon Deacons' first 10 points, scored in double figures for the 11th consecutive time - the longest current streak on the team.
Coming off 17 points and 10 rebounds against Texas-Arlington on Wednesday, Tucker scored six points in the final 1:47 and finished 11-of-13 from the floor and grabbed 14 rebounds.
"He's so competitive, he's continued to work hard and this has not been easy for him to adjust from playing on the inside to the outside," Barnes said about Tucker. "He's had his ups and downs but he's worked hard and I like the way he responds to the big games. He plays to the level of the competition."
Brad Buckman scored 15 of his 17 points in the first half and Kenny Taylor chipped in 13 points and five assists for Texas (7-2), which shot 55 percent (16-of-29) from the field in the first half but trailed 49-45 at halftime.
Gibson, the top recruit of the Longhorns' much-heralded freshman class, scored 12 points and handed out three assists without a turnover.