Wake Forest 67, Georgia Tech 58
Posted February 15, 1999 6:00 a.m. EST
Winston-Salem-AP — Robert O'Kelley's green light to shoot sometimes has burned a little too brightly for Wake Forest's own good.
But last year's Atlantic Coast Conference rookie of the year says he has learned to let the game come to him more, and his maturity paid off Tuesday night.
The sophomore guard scored 19 of his 25 points in the final 14 minutes, including 12 in a key 3-1/2-minute span, as the Demon Deacons beat slumping Georgia Tech 67-58.
``He took the game on and I've seen him do that before - sometimes he does it to an extreme,'' said Wake Forest coach Dave Odom. ``But he was on. He saved us, there's no question about that.''
O'Kelley was 6-for-8 from the field in the second half, and being hit in the throat by T.J. Vines on a drive just spurred him on more. He got a steal and layup and two 3-pointers moments after both players got technical fouls.
``I got mad, but he's a good guy and we shook hands after the game,'' O'Kelley said of Vines. ``I was a little riled up. It got the whole team's momentum going a little bit.''
The young Demon Deacons (14-11, 5-8 ACC) used their 13th different starting lineup to break a three-game losing skid in the series against Georgia Tech.
Jason Collier scored 23 points, 19 in the second half, to lead the Yellow Jackets (14-12, 5-8), who have lost four of their past five games and are fading from NCAA tournament consideration.
``We hurt ourselves (for the NCAA tournament) but we're still not out of it,'' said Georgia Tech coach Bobby Cremins, whose team shot 26 percent in the first half and trailed by 11 at halftime.
``Somebody is going to come out of the (ACC) group,'' he added. ``Right now, I don't feel too good (about our chances). We've kind of gone backwards a little bit.''
The Yellow Jackets surged back at the start of the second half behind the long-range shooting of the 7-foot Collier, who nailed three 3-pointers in the first 7:10 as Georgia Tech closed to 39-38.
O'Kelley then caught fire, scoring on two driving layups, two 3-pointers and two foul shots as Wake Forest went up 54-42 with 8:21 left.
``I was patient,'' O'Kelley said. ``Obviously, they were keying on me as every team does, but I just worked within the team concept and I got some looks.''
Josh Shoemaker's two free throws capped the 17-4 run and gave Wake Forest a 14-point lead with 7:43 left. Georgia Tech never got closer than six the rest of the way.
Georgia Tech, coming off a 20-point loss at Louisville on Sunday, started the game 0-for-12 and missed 16 of its first 17 shots.
``I was not under the illusion that our defense was anywhere as good as it looked,'' said Odom, whose club had a season-low six turnovers. ``I really thought that (Georgia Tech) showed signs of playing a third game in a row on the road. That even wears on pro teams.''