WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Wake Forest again looked like the deep, athletic team capable of making a deep run in March. The Demon Deacons apparently just needed a ranked opponent to bring it back out of them.
Al-Farouq Aminu scored 17 points to help seventh-ranked Wake Forest beat No. 25 Florida State 86-63 on Saturday, its fourth win in a row against a ranked team as it bounces back from a frustrating stretch that followed its appearance at No. 1.
The Demon Deacons (19-4, 6-4 ACC) led the entire way and spent much of the game shooting better than 50 percent. They used a 13-0 second-half run to take control, turning a 12-point halftime lead into a 30-point margin late to end the Seminoles' three-game winning streak.
The Demon Deacons had lost four of six since reaching No. 1, including Wednesday at unranked North Carolina State, a game in which it trailed by 20 in the second half. There was a loss at Georgia Tech for the Yellow Jackets' lone league win, a 27-point loss at Miami last week and a home loss to Virginia Tech when the Demon Deacons were 16-0 and ranked first.
But this is also the team that beat North Carolina, Duke and Clemson, all currently ranked 12th or higher, within five games.
It has left coach Dino Gaudio to surmise that his team has occasional bouts of overconfidence, particularly when the facing a weaker team.
"They're learning you've got to play everybody," he said. "But when you put a challenge in front of them, they meet it."
In that sense, FSU (19-6, 6-4) was the perfect opponent. The Seminoles were celebrating their first poll appearance in 11 years and entered tied for third in the ACC with Clemson. Their only loss in the previous five games had come against the Tar Heels on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.
"I guess we kind of ran into a buzzsaw," FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. "I thought they were much more aggressive than we were. For whatever reason, we were somewhat tentative on the offensive end. We were somehow reluctant to attack, and they took advantage of our tentativeness. … This wasn't one of our better games."