WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) -- Chris Paul wants the officials to
take notice of the elbows being thrown his way. His Wake Forest
teammates want him to get over it.
Paul got pushed around and shoved to the court, but still
managed to score 17 points as the sixth-ranked Demon Deacons stayed
in contention for the Atlantic Coast Conference title with a 90-68
victory over Virginia on Sunday.
After, he said it's time the officials stop the physical play.
"I don't know what it is, but it seems like every game someone
is trying to go after me," Paul said. "I get all these cheap
shots, and then refs tell me to stop what I am doing. It sort of
Paul had numerous early scuffles with Virginia freshman Sean
Singletary, and was knocked to the court on a hard shove from
behind by Elton Brown after a whistle.
If the Deacons (24-4, 11-3) are going to get anywhere this
season, they need Paul to deal with it.
"That happens to anybody's best player. People want to get in
your head," said Justin Gray, who led the Deacons with 20 points.
"I just tell him to calm down, don't get caught up in it and
keep your composure. This game he did."
Gray even accused Paul of an Academy Award-winning performance
when Brown knocked him to floor. Paul lay face down on the court,
then banged his fists in anger before getting up.
When Brown wasn't called for a technical foul, Wake Forest coach
Skip Prosser erupted on the sidelines. Twice told to calm down by
the officials, Prosser was given a technical -- his first of the
season -- with 6:19 left in the half.
"He got knocked down, but that was some good acting there,"
The Deacons needed Paul to stay focused because the win kept
them one game behind No. 2 North Carolina, which beat Maryland
85-83 on Sunday night, for first place in the league.
But Wake Forest holds the tiebreaker over Carolina, and can earn
the top seed in the ACC tournament by winning its final two games
and getting one loss from the Tar Heels.
"We want the No. 1 seed, in the NCAA's and the ACC
tournament," Gray said. "We are going for it, but we know we need
They emptied their bench late in the game and were chastised by
the officials for raucously cheering when junior John Buck dunked
with just seconds to go.
"That was the most heralded play of the game," Paul declared.
The game opened with early elbows from Singletary, causing Paul
to stop at one point and stand in the lane, hands on his hips and a
scowl on his face, as he glared in the direction of the officials.
The tension dates to their Jan. 27 meeting, which was marked by
physical play the entire game and ended with Paul getting knocked
to the floor late on a hard foul.
Paul got his revenge on the floor by twice freezing Singletary
as he blew by him for a layup. He also embarrassed Smith, when
standing still just past the midcourt line, he snatched the ball
away from him and raced ahead for his first dunk of the season.
He helped the Deacons take a 44-31 halftime lead and the makings
of a runaway win.
But Virginia came out firing in the second half and sliced Wake
Forest's lead to 46-41.
Wake Forest pulled it together behind senior Taron Downey, who
ran the court and helped the Deacons pull away.
"That team has a chance to get to the Final Four and win a
national championship," Virginia coach Pete Gillen said. "We
couldn't stop them, they just wore us down."
Singletary left with 14:48 to play when he injured his knee as
he and Gray tangled and fell to the court. Singletary was called
for a foul on the play, but as he was helped off the court, he shot
a nasty glare in Gray's direction.
Singletary, who averages 10.3 points and 4.0 assists a game,
returned with 11:25 left and quickly made a 3-pointer. But he was
clearly playing in pain -- Paul yelled over to Wake Forest's bench
"Singletary can barely walk" when the Deacons tried to give Paul
a rest -- and Singletary fouled out with 10:56 to play.
He finished with seven points and no assists.
"He's a young player playing against maybe the best point guard
in the country," Gillen said. "He's making some mistakes, but I
thought he did a real good job."