PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) When Rutgers found a way to deny Devin Thomas late in the second half, Cornelius Hudson took advantage of his opportunity.
Hudson scored on a baseline drive with 18 seconds remaining to give Wake Forest a 69-68 victory over the Scarlet Knights in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge game Monday night.
Trailing 68-67 with 28.1 seconds left, Hudson took a pass in the left corner, pump faked and drove the baseline to lay it in.
Thomas had 23 points and 17 rebounds for Wake Forest (5-2) and was close to unstoppable in the second half with 16 points and nine boards.
But Rutgers guarded him well on the game-winning sequence.
''We tried to give Devin the ball because he's been a dog all night,'' Hudson said. ''The coaches said if you get a chance, drive it. I drove it hard and got a shot and got what we wanted.''
Wake Forest coach Danny Manning praised the sophomore, who had eight points, for his ability to handle the situation.
''We just wanted the ball to move,'' Manning said. ''Cornelius was able to see a seam and get to the basket. They rotated over very well, did a good job of not fouling, and he just made a tough shot.''
Corey Sanders then missed a driving layup attempt in the lane and the ball went out off of Wake Forest with 4.7 seconds left. Mike Williams missed a rushed 3-point attempt from straight away. Devin Thomas was fouled, missed a free throw and Rutgers' desperation heave was off the mark.
Mitchell Wilbekin added 12 points and John Collins added 11 for Wake Forest.
Sanders scored 17 points, Greg Lewis had 11 points and nine rebounds, and Jonathan Laurent added 10 points for Rutgers (3-4), which lost its third straight.
''We're disappointed in the result and disappointed in some areas coming down the stretch,'' Knights coach Eddie Jordan said. ''But that's what young teams do. We can't get frustrated, we just have to learn from it.''
Both offenses struggled in the first half but improved in the second. Trailing 29-24 at halftime, Rutgers opened the game's largest lead at 58-46 with 9:02 remaining. Wake responded with a 16-2 run to reclaim the lead, 62-60, with 4:19 remaining.
From that point, there were three lead changes and three leads until Hudson made his game-winning basket.
Thomas' performance sparked Wake in the second half.
''I just let the game come to me, kicking the ball out for my 3-point shooters,'' he said. ''They just weren't knocking down shots in the first half. Second half they told me to be more aggressive. I was more aggressive in the second half and was more successful.''
Wake Forest: The Deacons snapped a four-game losing streak in New Jersey, having fallen at Seton Hall in 2011-12 and dropping three straight games in the Meadowlands prior to that. Wake Forest was playing its first game on the mainland since beating UCLA in the third-place game of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational on Nov. 25. Thomas' recorded his fourth double-double of the season and the 25th of his career, which leads all active ACC players.
Rutgers: Patrick Hobbs, who was named Rutgers' Athletic Director on Sunday, was introduced during a first-half timeout and got a loud ovation from the crowd.
ROAD TO SUCCESS
After winning just two games away from home last year, Wake Forest is 4-1 in games on road/neutral courts this year. The win over Rutgers gives the Deacons four non-conference road/neutral wins for the first time since 2009-10.
Wake Forest hosts Arkansas on Friday
Rutgers hosts Seton Hall on Saturday