WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Coach Dino Gaudio sat Wake Forest's sluggish starting five on the bench, giving them a clear view of what was turning into one of the biggest upsets of the season.
"There was nothing else to say to those first five guys," Gaudio said, "so I just let them sit and watch."
A few minutes later, he put them back in -- and just as quickly, they took care of pesky Radford.
Jeff Teague scored 11 of his 19 points in the second half, and No. 6 Wake Forest shrugged off a slow start to beat the Highlanders 83-61 on Tuesday night.
After the mass benching, they closed the game by outscoring Radford 36-13 over the final 14 minutes and shooting nearly 53 percent in the second half. That helped them match the 2000-01 team, which opened with 12 straight wins, and dodge the Highlanders' upset bid.
"If you're not playing hard or you let somebody do something that we had on the scouting report, you come out. That's how it goes," Johnson said, adding that after that, "we were just doing what we should have been doing from the beginning, and that's playing hard basketball and playing our basketball. It took the second team to show us that."
Artsiom Parakhouski had 15 points on 6-of-16 shooting and added 16 rebounds to lead Radford (4-9), which remained winless against nonconference teams from Division I and fell to 0-15 against Atlantic Coast Conference schools.
But for a while, the Highlanders held their own against a Wake Forest team that looked like it was playing for the first time in a week.
"They're a handful for anybody, and they wore us down," Radford coach Brad Greenberg said. "As well as I think we played for a pretty good stretch of the game, it just was real tough for us to be able to do it for 40 minutes and keep it close enough to where it was a real game down the stretch. At about the 30-minute mark ... the wheels came off a little bit."
The seemingly disinterested Demon Deacons were coming off the seven-day layoff that followed their 41-point rout of East Carolina.
For a while, they couldn't get much of anything going against the Highlanders, who confounded them by switching between man and two zone defenses. Radford took a 48-47 lead on Parakhouski's putback with 14:11 remaining -- roughly 2 1/2 minutes after an exasperated Gaudio benched his starters.
"We were supposed to come out like we did against ECU and bring the pain, and we didn't," Teague said.
A few seconds after that basket, Gaudio put them back in -- and they proved they got the message.
Teague hit a layup off an inbounds pass to put the Demon Deacons ahead to stay and start the decisive burst. Wake Forest took its first double-figure lead when Johnson's coast-to-coast layup made it 66-55 with 7 1/2 minutes left, and pushed the lead past 20 points when Aminu's layup with 1 1/2 minutes to play made it 80-59.
"We were like, 'C'mon, we've got to do this -- we're No. 6 and we're playing like we're not even ranked. We're playing terrible, pick it up," Teague said. "We've got to send a message. We picked it up a little bit, but we're still disappointed."
The Highlanders had one player on the roster taller than 6-8 -- the 6-11 Parakhouski -- yet they held a 45-39 rebounding advantage against a Wake Forest frontline that boasts four players 6-11 and up.
"I've got two inside players who are pretty tough kids," Greenberg said. "Neither had their best night today, but they certainly were very representative and very competitive against one of the better frontcourts that just about any college team is going to have this year."
Chas McFarland added 10 points for Wake Forest, which almost certainly will face a tougher test in its next game. The Demon Deacons on Saturday night will visit a BYU team that has won a Division I-best 53 straight games at home.
"[Assistant coach] Jeff Battle did the scout and talked to them before the game about worrying about right now," Gaudio said. "They can look to BYU now."