MINERS
Wake Forest Holds Off UTEP, 82-79

Julyan Stone

Julyan Stone

Nov. 28, 2008

Final Stats

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Jeff Teague scored 12 of Wake Forest's final 18 points and totaled 22 in the second half as the 19th-ranked Demon Deacons survived a major upset bid by the UTEP Miners, 82-79, in the second round of the 76 Classic on Friday afternoon.

The Miners (3-2) trailed 64-52 midway through the second half before a furious rally put them in position to win in the final seconds.

A three point play by Stefon Jackson sliced UTEP's deficit to 80-79 with 16 seconds remaining. After Teague hit two free throws, Jackson missed a three pointer and Claude Britten's putback attempt was no good. Wake Forest's Al-Farouq Aminu missed two free throws with two seconds left, and Randy Culpepper's three pointer from halfcourt fell short as time expired.

"It's hard to take," UTEP coach Tony Barbee said. "They have an unbelievable team, and I respect [Wake Forest coach] Dino Gaudio and the job he does. I thought we were playing the Lakers today, as big as they were. There are no moral victories. My team truly believes that anytime we touch the floor we are as good as anyone. Period. We have to finish these games off."

The Miners had a shot at posting their first victory over a ranked opponent since 2001 despite shooting 34.2 percent from the field. UTEP's top two scorers, Randy Culpepper and Jackson, were a combined 15-for-47 from the field.

Jackson did finish with 31 points. It was the seventh 30-point game of his UTEP career, tying him with Brandon Wolfram for the fourth-top total in school history. He was 13-for-14 from the line.

"It doesn't mean anything without the win," Jackson said. "I'd rather score seven and win than score 31 and lose."

UTEP outrebounded Wake Forest (5-0) 50-33, including 31-12 in the second half. Arnett Moultrie had the first double-double of his Miner career with 13 points and 13 boards.

"We need to keep them off the backboard, which we did, and you are not going to stop an athletic team like that in transition, but we needed to limit their opportunities," Barbee said. "I'd have to watch the film, but I bet half of their points came on transition. It's hard to win when you are giving up that many points on layups."

Culpepper scored 15 points and Britten added 10 points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots for UTEP.

James Johnson and Amini tallied 18 and 15 points respectively for the Demon Deacons, who hit 53.8 percent of their shots.

Wake Forest had a pair of 11-0 runs in the first half, the second closing out the period for a 42-33 lead at the break.

UTEP opened the second half with a 7-0 spurt to close within two points, 42-40, on a three point play by Jackson with 17:19 to play. The Demon Deacons took their largest lead of the night, 64-52, with 10:18 remaining and led by 10 with 8:15 to go before UTEP mounted its rally.

"I thought it was a real character win by our guys," Wake Forest coach Dino Gaudio said. "I thought we gutted it out, I thought we showed a lot of character and really hung together when UTEP made its runs. I am really proud of our guys. I think that UTEP is a very good, well-coached basketball team and I think for the most part, holding that team to 34 percent from the field and 19 percent from three point range was the difference in the game."

The Miners will face the loser of Friday night's Arizona State-Baylor matchup in the tournament's third place game on Sunday at 6 p.m. MST. ESPNU will have national coverage.