Dec. 6, 1997
|Andre Miller scored 20 points against Wake Forest. (File Photo)|
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Andre Miller scored six of his 20 points in a key second-half run as 10th-ranked Utah used a suffocating defense to turn back host and number 24 Wake Forest, 62-53.
Hanno Mottola added 16 for the Utes (7-0), who won for the first time in three tries against Wake Forest and avenged a 70-59 defeat to the Demon Deacons from last season. Utah held the Deacons to six baskets in the second half.
Tony Rutland scored 24 points for Wake Forest (6-1), which was held to its lowest total of the season. Rutland scored the Deacons' final 11 points.
Wake Forest took its final lead at 40-38 with 10:14 to play after Rutland hit two free throws, but Miller triggered a 13-2 burst with a layup to tie the game 72 seconds later.
After Rutland and Loren Woods missed shots, Miller fed Drew Hansen, who converted a layup and free throw for a three-point play. Jerry Braswell hit a 19-footer to draw Wake Forest within 43-42, but Jon Carlisle hit a pair of foul shots to restore the three-point lead with 7:06 left.
Braswell missed a three-pointer, and Mottola used an up-and-under move to push the lead to five. Miller followed a pair of misses by Wake Forest freshman Robert O'Kelley with a layup and 12-footer, respectively, to cap the run and give the Utes a 51-42 bulge with 4:25 remaining.
"Miller is really a lot like (Jazz point guard John) Stockton in that as quick as he is, he can dribble down the court with both hands," said Utes coach Rick Majerus. "He has a green light much like (Keith) Van Horn did and he was tired at the end, but he came back after they hit that jumper from the right wing."
But Rutland would not let his team die, going on a personal 7-0 run with two three-pointers around a free throw. His second three-pointer, a 22-footer from the top of the key, pulled the Deacons within 51-49 at the 2:55 mark.
Wake Forest went to a 3-2 zone on Utah's ensuing possession, but Michael Doleac freed himself from Woods on the right block and hit a 12-footer with 2:20 to play for a four-point Utah lead. Rutland missed a 10-footer, and Miller iced the game with a nine-foot bank shot with 1:47 left to make it 55-49.
Utah threatened to blow the Deacons out of their own building with a 12-2 run in the first six minutes, but Wake Forest righted itself and was able to take a 31-28 halftime lead behind 11 points from Rutland.
The Utes shot 42 percent (22-of-52) overall but missed all 12 of their three-point attempts. Mottola pulled down 10 rebounds and Doleac finished with 14 points and seven rebounds.
The Demon Deacons shot 28 percent (14-of-50) and were outrebounded 43-31. O'Kelley finished with 11 points but shot 3-of-12 from the field.
"I think we certainly lost to a better basketball team," said Demon Deacons coach Dave Odom. "I don't feel too badly. I do feel badly that we didn't play better in spurts. The game evolved into the kind of game where, against a team like Utah, it's going to be very difficult for us to win."
The teams combined for just 15 turnovers.