January 20, 2003
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- It is time for the rest of the Atlantic Coast Conference to take notice: Wake Forest's Josh Howard is among the best in the league.
Howard had his second big game of the week Sunday night, scoring 30 to lead No. 19 Wake Forest to a 73-66 victory over Georgia Tech.
"He made a pretty strong statement about being among the best, if not the best player in the ACC," Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said.
Howard, who scored 23 in Wednesday night's win over No. 17 Maryland, opened with a pair of 3-pointers and made big shots when needed to guide the Demon Deacons (12-1) to their 11th straight home win.
Howard hit 3-of-4 3-pointers, went 11-for-12 at the free-throw line, added three assists and blocked five shots -- one with 44 seconds left that went into the stands.
"I know I wouldn't trade him for anyone in the ACC," coach Skip Prosser said. "He possesses an iron will and will not lose. I'm glad I get to coach him."
Chris Bosch led Georgia Tech (8-6) with 22 points and 10 rebounds. The Yellow Jackets lost their fifth straight in Lawrence Joel Coliseum, where they are 5-15 and have not won since 1998.
But it was not a smooth win for Wake Forest.
The Demon Deacons, who started three sophomores and a freshman, made several little mistakes that caused Prosser to kick the scoring table twice and punch the side of it four times.
Wake Forest defended well against guard Marvin Lewis, the Yellow Jackets' leading scorer who was coming off a career-high 33 points in a win over Florida State. The Deacons held Lewis to seven points on seven shots.
Howard, one of two seniors on one of the youngest squads in the ACC, had to carry Wake Forest. With guard Justin Gray sidelined for the second straight game with a broken jaw and center Eric Williams in foul trouble and limited to 15 minutes, Howard stepped up when the Demon Deacons needed a big basket.
With Wake leading by six early in the second half, Howard had a powerful hanging dunk off of a miss and then was fouled on an aggressive drive. His two free throws gave the Deacons a 54-44 lead. After Tech cut Wake's lead to 58-54, Howard followed a basket by Jamaal Levy with four straight free throws to push the lead back to 64-54 with 2:17 left.
DePAUL 55, ECU 42: On a day when a 38 percent shooting from the field was good enough to win, reserve Marlon Brooks' 11 points were enough to lead the host Blue Demons. Brooks was 3-for-5 from the field and 4-for-4 from the free-throw line.
"This was my best game this season," Brooks said.
As cold as they were from the field, the Blue Demons (10-4) made 19 of 24 free throws, including 14-of-17 in the last 12:55 to clinch it. East Carolina (10-5) shot almost 31 percent.
The Pirates did not hit a shot from the field in the last 7:14. This was after hitting their last shot from the field in the first half with 9:01 left.
In that first-half stretch, East Carolina had 10 possessions, including one five-shot possession, and attempted 16 shots.
Gabriel Mikulus led the Pirates with 15 points.