ATLANTA -- When Georgia Tech is playing this way -- spreading the shots around, pounding the boards and making it tough for opponents to even get the ball up to the rim -- the Yellow Jackets are nearly impossible to beat.
Wake Forest never had a chance Thursday night.
D'Andre Bell led a balanced offense with 16 points, Derrick Favors blocked five shots and No. 22 Georgia Tech pulled away early in the second half for a 79-58 rout of the Demon Deacons.
"I'm not sure we can play much better than that," Yellow Jackets coach Paul Hewitt said.
Gani Lawal went a step further.
"There's no doubt in my mind," he said, breaking into a confident grin, "that when we're on top of our game, we're the best team in the league."
Coming off a tough loss at Florida State, the Yellow Jackets (15-5, 4-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) ripped off a 19-4 run to break open a tight game. As usual in its ACC victories, Georgia Tech did its best work at the defensive end, holding the Demon Deacons (14-5, 4-3) almost 19 points below their scoring average for the season.
Wake Forest shot just 33 percent from the field (21 of 64), including a dismal 3-of-18 showing beyond the arc, to put only two players in double figures: Al-Farouq Aminu with 15 points and Ishmael Smith with 12.
"They're real physical," said Aminu, the ACC's leading rebounder but outmanned by Georgia Tech's inside duo of Lawal and Favors. "They're very athletic. They take it to you. They're good players."
Georgia Tech let nearly everyone in on the offense. Lawal had 14 points and Brian Oliver added 13, while Iman Shumpert and Favors chipped in with 11 each. Favors and Lawal also had nine rebounds apiece, leading the Yellow Jackets to a 43-34 edge on the boards -- 27-10 in the second half.
"We want to be a defensive-minded, physical team," Lawal said. "We want to pound teams on the inside. That's our strength."
After the Deacons scored the first two baskets of the second half to close a six-point deficit to 35-33, Georgia Tech took control.
Lawal got it started, hitting a shot on the inside, drawing a foul on Aminu and knocking down the free throw to complete the three-point play. Shumpert followed with a 3-pointer, then swished a smooth jumper. Just like that, Georgia Tech had its first double-digit lead of the night, 45-35.
The Yellow Jackets didn't let up -- at either end. Lawal got loose on the inside for a dunk, Oliver knocked down another 3, Favors went back inside for yet another easy one and Bell closed out the run with a pair of free throws.
Wake Forest, on the other hand, missed seven of eight shots from the field and four straight free throws, allowing Georgia Tech to turn it into a laugher.
It was tough for the Demon Deacons to get off any shots at all with the 6-foot-10 Favors lurking in the lane.
"That's pretty much my game," said the freshman, who has hit the weight room to bulk up his lanky frame. "I didn't have any foul trouble, so I felt comfortable on defense."
The Yellow Jackets wound up shooting 54 percent (29 of 54) to easily win their sixth straight over the Demon Deacons in Atlanta. Georgia Tech needed this one, coming off a final-minute, two-point loss at Florida State last weekend.
"We're a pretty good defensive team," said Wake Forest coach Dino Gaudio, whose team had been ranked fifth in the country, allowing opponents to make just 37 percent from the field. "I don't think anyone in a long time has shot 54 percent against us."
In its ACC wins, the Yellow Jackets have held Duke, North Carolina, Clemson and Wake Forest nearly 16 points below their cumulative scoring averages for the season.
"They took us out of a lot of stuff we wanted to try to do," Gaudio said, "and they really shot the ball well."
No. 18 Mississippi 84, Auburn 74:
AUBURN, Ala. -- Chris Warren scored 20 points and Terrico White had 19 to lead Mississippi past Auburn.
The Rebels (16-4, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) shot 57 percent and got 53 points from their three starting guards, including 14 from Eniel Polynice. They have already matched last season's win total and won back-to-back league road games for the first time since 2001.
The Tigers (10-11, 1-5) stayed in it with 3-pointers but cooled off in the second half, launching 36 and making 11 in the game.
White and Terrance Henry hit consecutive 3s to start a 10-0 run that put Ole Miss up 78-65 with 4:26 left. Before that surge, the Rebels' biggest lead was six points.
No. 10 Purdue 60, No. 16 Purdue 57:
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- E'Twaun Moore scored 20 points and No. 10 Purdue held off No. 16 Wisconsin 60-57 on Thursday night in a matchup of Big Ten contenders that came down to the final seconds.
JaJuan Johnson added 14 points and Robbie Hummel had 12 points, 13 rebounds and five assists for the Boilermakers (17-3, 5-3 Big Ten), who won their third straight and moved within a half-game of Wisconsin for second place in the conference.
Trevon Hughes missed a contested runner in the closing seconds that could have won it for Wisconsin.
Keaton Nankivil scored a career-high 25 points and shot 7 of 8 on 3-pointers for the Badgers (16-5, 6-3), who used an 8-0 run to take a one-point lead on Nankivil's 3 with 42 seconds to go.
Moore scored in the lane with 25.2 seconds left to put Purdue back in front, 58-57. Johnson hit two free throws with a second remaining and Chris Kramer intercepted Wisconsin's long inbounds pass from under its basket to seal the win.
No. 13 Gonzaga 71, Santa Clara 64:
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Matt Bouldin and Steven Gray each scored 19 points, and Gonzaga rallied from a 14-point deficit in the second half to beat Santa Clara for its ninth straight victory.
Elias Harris had 16 points and 14 rebounds for the Bulldogs (17-3, 6-0 West Coast Conference), who closed with a 12-0 run over the final 5:55 and beat the Broncos for the eighth straight time.
Niyi Harrison scored 14 points to lead the Broncos (9-14, 1-5), who have lost seven of their past eight home games.
Mangisto Arop gave Gonzaga its first lead since early in the game on a putback with 4:03 to go. Gonzaga has not lost at Santa Clara since 2001.
No. 17 Pittsburgh 63, St. John's 53:
PITTSBURGH -- Ashton Gibbs and Gary McGhee scored key baskets to start a game-ending 9-1 run and Pittsburgh overcame some poor shooting and a large rebounding disparity to beat St. John's.
Brad Wanamaker scored 16 points, Gibbs added 14 and McGhee scored eight of his 10 points in the second half as the Panthers (16-4, 6-2 Big East) rallied from a six-point deficit to end their first two-game skid in nearly two years.
Justin Burrell scored 14 points for St. John's (12-8, 2-6), which lost its seventh in 10 games. The Red Storm trailed only 54-52 after D.J. Kennedy's two free throws with 1:56 to play