Smoked on Tobacco Road

Smoked on Tobacco Road

IU blown out by Wake Forest, 100-67, in Big Ten-ACC Challenge

By Doug Wilson, Herald-Times Sports Writer

December 3, 2003

Indiana’s A.J. Moye (2) gets pushed around by Wake Forest’s Eric Williams in the second half. Williams scored a career-high 25 points in Wake’s 100-67 rout. Staff photo by Chris Howell.
From the Dec. 3, 2003 Bloomington Herald-Times

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Wake Forest handed Indiana its biggest loss of the Mike Davis era Tuesday night in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

The No. 18 Demon Deacons (4-0) dominated IU inside and outside in a 100-67 rout. The 33-point margin of defeat was IU’s largest since a 112-64 loss at Michigan in 1998.

“This tonight was another growing experience for us,” said Davis, IU’s fourth-year head coach. “It’s all about the fight. It’s about the will to win. And tonight, (Wake Forest) had it.”

Wake Forest’s margin of victory broke the ACC-Big Ten Challenge record of 27 points set by Illinois last season in a home win over North Carolina. The Demon Deacons’ 100 points were also the highest total in the five years of the challenge.

“I thought we came out from the opening tip and played with a lot of intensity and emotion,” said Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser, whose team won its 19th straight home game.

In IU’s first game since losing center George Leach to a knee injury, the Hoosiers had no answer for Wake Forest’s 275-pound Eric Williams.

The 6-9 sophomore came into the game averaging 13 points. He used his bulk to get shot after shot near the basket. He scored 25 on 10-of-19 shooting.

Prosser said he’d like to pound the ball into Williams every game, but isn’t sure if the strategy would have worked as well had the Hoosiers not lost their top shot blocker.

“That hurt us,” Davis said. “The one thing you can’t do on George is just turn around and shoot in his face.”

Davis said it also hurt IU that Bracey Wright picked up two first half fouls, one helping out on Williams and the other on an offensive foul while making a cut. Once Wright went to the bench, IU’s offense shut down and a fairly close game got out of hand in a hurry.

But Davis also said Wake Forest would have won the game handily, regardless of Wright’s foul situation. The Demon Deacons, whose biggest lead was 38, could have run their lead to more than 40 points had they wanted to, Davis said.

Wright scored a game-high 27 points, but only eight came in the first half. The star of that half was Wake Forest freshman point guard Chris Paul, who finished with a career-high 20 points. He also made eight assists and five steals.

“It was so much fun,” Paul said. “I couldn’t believe it was happening. I felt very overwhelmed. Something like that doesn’t happen every day. I took guarding Wright as a challenge and wanted to step up to the challenge of this game.”

Tormenting IU’s guards, Paul made five steals and scored 15 points before halftime as the Hoosiers committed 16 first-half turnovers, while scoring only eight field goals.

“He may be the best point guard we’ve played since I’ve been at Indiana,” Davis said of Paul. “It’s impossible to pressure him and he gets the ball to the people he’s supposed to.”

IU’s Pat Ewing, Sean Kline and A.J. Moye fought hard inside, but it was a mismatch against Williams, who had 11 first-half points as the Demon Deacons outscored the Hoosiers 26-7 in the paint.

After a 6-0 start by Wake Forest, IU hung close for seven minutes, trailing 17-13 with 13:08 left. But Wake Forest exploded on a 26-9 run over the next eight minutes to grab a 21-point lead.

IU’s Marshall Strickland had five turnovers in the first half and Wright had four.

The Demon Deacons took a 51-29 margin into the lockerroom, shooting 56.3 percent in the half, while the Hoosiers hit on only 33.3 percent of their attempts, including 2-of-11 from 3-point range.

Any hopes of making a game of it in the second half vanished when Wake Forest started on a 21-7 roll.

“Unfortunately, we came out even softer in the second half,” Davis said.

The Hoosier coach said one of IU’s bright spots was a great game by Ewing in his first start. The 6-8 freshman had eight points, nine rebounds and a spectacular dunk over Williams after Ewing stripped the ball from him.

“He played like a senior and the other guys like freshmen,” Davis said.

Ewing said it was a good challenge to battle the massive Williams.

“He’s real physical and stronger than I am,” Ewing said. “He’s not the last bigger guy I’m going to face.”

Ewing said IU will bounce back from Tuesday’s blowout and play better at home Saturday against No. 4 Missouri, just like the Hoosiers did after their first road loss to Xavier.

“It was just one loss,” Davis said. “If you measure your loss by points, you lose your season. Look at the (New England) Patriots – they were shut out in the first week. If we realize every game we play in the preseason is a learning experience, I think we’ll be all right in the Big Ten.”