Originally created 02/26/97

Duncan, No. 5 Wake Forest drop Georgia Tech, 71-55



WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Tim Duncan ended his career at Joel Coliseum as a winner, the way he spent his four years at Wake Forest.

Duncan and junior guard Tony Rutland led the fifth-ranked Deacons to a 71-55 victory Tuesday against Georgia Tech.

The 16 losses tie a career-high for coach Bobby Cremins at Georgia Tech (9-16, 3-12). The Yellow Jackets, who are headed to the ACC tournament play-in game in Greensboro on March 6, also lost 16 in his first season in 1981-82.

Duncan, who had his jersey retired after the game, had 10 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists in his home finale.

Rutland added 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting for the Deacons (22-4, 11-5).

Coach Dave Odom liked the way his players worked together. He has urged them to stop watching Duncan and become a part of the offense again.

"I thought in the last four, five, six minutes," Odom said, "that was the best ball movement we had in the last two to three weeks. We passed the ball with a purpose, very unselfishly.

"That was a small step for us, but a very important one."

Wake Forest recognized all four seniors and their parents before the game. The other seniors are Ricky Peral, Marc Scott and Ken Herbst.

The Deacons then went out and, in methodical fashion, took a 34-22 lead at halftime.

"We are still a ways away there," Odom said. "That was a point where we were playing with a lot of defensive energy there, but we were playing with a lot of strange lineups for us.

"I think we're still battling a little confidence there, but you need to just play your way out of that. Again, the last four or five minutes will help toward that."

The defense is what Odom pointed to as his biggest concern beforehand. Wake Forest then went out and held Georgia Tech to 30.4-percent shooting in the first half. Matt Harpring, the mainstay of the Yellow Jackets' offense, had nine points in the half, but was 2-of-7 from the field.

Harpring finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds, but he was 6-of-15, including 1-of-7 on three-pointers, as Georgia Tech shot 38.8 percent.

Rutland gave the most aggressive performance for Wake Forest, scoring 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting in the first half.

"How our point guard plays sometimes determines how our team plays," Odom said. "Tonight I thought our team followed him very well. For the most part, I thought he made very good decisions. It's his best game in some while."

The Yellow Jackets did not get discouraged by their early play. Georgia Tech cut the Deacons' lead to 41-35 on a follow shot by Jason Floyd with 13:36 left.

Try as they might, however, the Yellow Jackets could not draw closer.

"I thought we had a chance," Cremins said. "We had a charging foul and then two straight missed shots, and that really hurt us.

"That's the kind of year it's been for us. I take full responsibility for the season. This has been my toughest year in coaching. We haven't had a good year, but I'm going to do all I can to get Georgia Tech basketball back to where it used to be."

Wake Forest put the game away with the flurry that excited Odom. Peral sank a three-pointer with 7:53 left to start a stretch of eight consecutive possessions on which the Deacons scored.