Thomas scores 19 to lead Wake Forest past Samford 86-68
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) Wake Forest forward Devin Thomas isn't ready to say he's broken out of his recent slump.
But Thomas' performance Sunday was a big first step, scoring 19 points as the Deacons pulled away in the second half for an 86-68 victory over Samford.
Codi Miller-McIntyre and Madison Jones had 11 points each for Wake Forest (5-5), which shot 49.2 percent (30 of 61) and dominated inside against the Bulldogs to end a three-game losing streak.
Thomas, a 6-foot-9 junior, had his best scoring game since putting up 19 in a loss to Arkansas on Nov. 19. In the past five games, he's only scored in double figures once - 10 vs. N.C. State on Dec. 6 - and was held scoreless in a loss to Delaware State on Nov. 28.
''I've just been missing those easy shots,'' said Thomas, who was 7 of 11 from the field and 5 of 7 on free throws Sunday. ''Tonight, I was able to make those shots.
''It's just been one game, and we've got a big game next Saturday (at Florida). If I'm able to do the same thing there, then we can talk about it.''
Led by Thomas' eight boards, the Deacons outrebounded Samford 42-26 - including a 19-8 edge on the offensive glass - and outscored the Bulldogs 48-28 in the paint. They also had a 23-11 advantage in points off turnovers.
Tyler Hood scored 18 points and Nnamdi Enechionyia 15 for Samford (3-8), which gave Wake Forest fits in the first half. The Bulldogs pulled within one point early and twice within two points later in the half before trailing 47-41 at the halftime break.
Samford actually outshot the Deacons in the first half, making 15 of 26 from the field (57.7 percent) and 5 of 10 on 3-pointers. But Wake Forest shot 55.2 percent (16 of 29) in the half, and had an advantage at the free throw line (12 of 18, compared to 6 of 8 for the Bulldogs), points off turnovers (a 12-3 advantage) and in rebounding (a 17-10 edge).
''When they shoot the ball the way they shot it in the first half, they really presented some problems for us,'' Deacons coach Danny Manning said. ''We didn't guard as well as I would like, but we were more disruptive defensively in the second half. We can still improve, but we definitely played better in the second half than we did in the first half.''
Samford: The Bulldogs went 8 of 22 on 3-pointers Sunday, extending their streak of consecutive games with at least one 3-pointer to 701. The streak began on Jan. 19, 1991, against Texas-San Antonio. But they're far behind the NCAA record of 921 consecutive games held by UNLV, dating back to the 1986-1987 season.
Wake Forest: Only two Deacons players are ranked in the top 10 in the ACC in individual statistics. Thomas leads the conference in defensive rebounds (7.9 per game) and tied for fourth in total rebounds (9.4 per game). Guard Mitchell Wilbekin is 10th in steals at 1.7 per game.
Trailing by six points to open the second half, Samford cut Wake Forest's lead to 47-44 on Hood's 3-pointer with 19 minutes, 37 seconds left. But the Deacons responded with a 12-2 run to take their first double-digit lead, going up 59-46 on Thomas' short jumper with 13:33 remaining.
An improved Wake Forest defense in the second half led to Samford's field goal percentage dropping nearly 20 points, from 57.7 percent - the Bulldogs' second-best first half this season - to 37.9 percent (11 of 29) in the final 20 minutes. Samford's 3-point percentage had a similar drop, from 50 percent in the first half to 25 percent (3 of 12) in the second half.
Samford visits Presbyterian on Tuesday.
Wake Forest travels to Florida on Saturday.