WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina (Ticker) -- With Georgia Tech fighting to keep its postseason hopes alive, Wake Forest senior Vytas Danelius delivered a crushing blow and gave the home fans a fond farewell.
Danelius scored 17 points and grabbed a season-high 11 rebounds and Eric Williams added 21 as the fourth-ranked Demon Deacons rallied from a late deficit and kept their hopes alive for an Atlantic Coast Conference title with a 98-91 victory over the Yellow Jackets.
Finishing undefeated at the Lawrence Joel Coliseum (16-0) for just the third time since it opened in 1989-90, Wake Forest (25-4, 12-3 ACC) moved within a half-game of idle North Carolina for first place in the conference standings with one game remaining. North Carolina hosts Florida State on Thursday while Wake Forest travels to North Carolina State on Sunday.
Georgia Tech fell below .500 in league play, jeopardizing its chances for an NCAA Tournament berth.
Avenging a 102-101 overtime loss in Atlanta on January 27, the Demon Deacons overcame a slugging first half by shooting 69 percent (18-of-26) after the break. Wake Forest finished 51 percent (27-of-53) from the floor, while Georgia Tech shot 49 percent (32-of-66).
"You're talking about some pretty skilled offensive players," Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser said. "I don't think we ever found a way to keep them in front of us. (Luke) Schenscher had a great game for them. It's hard to guard a team that has so many options. Other teams seem to guard them better. They see us and they shoot the ball well. We shoot the ball well. We feel very fortunate to get out of here with a win."
"I think you have two very talented teams out there led by two very good point guards," said Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt, referring to Wake Forest's Chris Paul and Georgia Tech's Jarrett Jack. "When you have two very good point guards like that you are going to have chances to score points." Trailing, 55-44, with 16:01 left to play, Danelius, who scored nine points after intermission, helped the Demon Deacons rally with two 3-pointers. His first highlighted a 12-3 run that gave Wake Forest its first lead of the contest since early in the first half at 75-72 with 6:47 remaining.
"We didn't want to leave this place with a loss," Danelius said. "I kept thinking we would make a run. I knew we'd be back in it. I want to thank all the guys on the team. Without them I wouldn't have had the game I had. It felt really special."
The 6-9 forward added his second shot from the arc more than three minutes later for an 82-78 lead despite being fouled by Georgia Tech forward Anthony McHenry.
Unable to complete the four-point play, Danelius did help foul out McHenry, the Yellow Jackets' best post defender, on his shot from the arc.
With Georgia Tech undermanned down low, Williams scored consecutive baskets to keep Wake Forest ahead at 86-82 with 2:45 remaining. Danelius added a three-point play with 56 seconds left to push the advantage to 91-84.
Danelius finished 6-of-11 from the field and Williams pulled down eight rebounds for the Demon Deacons, who held a 37-29 advantage on the boards.
Chris Paul, who entered the game averaging just 5.3 points on 17 percent shooting in three previous games against Georgia Tech, scored 17 points and handed out seven assists for Wake Forest, which has not lost at home against an unranked opponent since January 30, 2000 - a span of 63 games.
Jack scored 23 points and B.J. Elder added 22 for Georgia Tech (16-10, 7-8), which fell to 1-5 against ranked opponents this season.
With Elder and Schenscher combining for 25 points on 11-of-17 shooting in the first half, the Yellow Jackets forged a 45-37 lead. But Wake Forest scored 61 points in the final 20 minutes and Georgia Tech shot just 43 percent (13-of-30) with seven 3-pointers.
"I think the way we played defensively was the difference," said Wake Forest forward Jamaal Levy about the tale of the two halves. "They really made us pay in the first half with the shots they were taking. It seemed like they weren't missing. In the second half, we came out with more emotion and started to make them pay with our shots instead."