WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina — Wake Forest rebounded from two tough losses by, well, rebounding.
Devin Thomas had 17 points and 14 rebounds, and the Demon Deacons beat Georgia Tech 76-69 on Saturday to give coach Danny Manning his first ACC victory.
"I'm happy," Manning said, "but we need more."
Freshman Mitchell Wilbekin and senior Darius Leonard both matched season scoring highs, with Wilbekin finishing with 14 points and Leonard adding 13 to help Wake Forest (9-8, 1-3) snap a two-game losing streak with both defeats coming by single digits to top-five opponents.
The Demon Deacons became the first team this season to outrebound Georgia Tech, building a 41-29 advantage on the boards against the No. 2 team in the ACC and the No. 4 team in Division I in rebounding margin (plus-10.9).
"They went after us," Yellow Jackets coach Brian Gregory said, "and we didn't respond. That's not who we are, that's not what we do, and that's not good."
Three days after only one player managed an offensive rebound against No. 2 Duke, Wake Forest had 15 offensive boards and they led to 19 second-chance points.
"Just competed — that's what rebounding comes down to is competing, boxing out, having a nose for the ball," Manning said. "Winning that category (offensive rebounding) every game is extremely important to us."
Cornelius Hudson added 11 points for the Demon Deacons, who were coming off losses to No. 5 Louisville and the Blue Devils earlier this week.
They shot 49 percent and held on despite making just 11 of 20 free throws in the final 2:39 — during one stretch hitting only 2 of 10.
Marcus Georges-Hunt scored all 16 of his points in the second half and Demarco Cox had 14 for the Yellow Jackets (9-6, 0-3), who lost their third straight.
The Demon Deacons didn't hit a bucket in the final 6 minutes — but didn't need to, because Georgia Tech kept sending them to the foul line.
Thomas gave Wake Forest a 67-62 lead by hitting two foul shots with 2:39 left, and two possessions later came the key sequence in this one.
After Madison Jones made one of two free throws with 1:43 left, Thomas tipped the offensive rebound to Wilbekin, who was fouled and made two foul shots.
"Those are just plays we have to have to win games that we want to win that are close at the end," Thomas said.
On the second, Wake Forest's Dinos Mitoglou caught an elbow from Charles Mitchell — who was called for a flagrant-1 foul.
Mitoglou made one free throw to stretch the lead to 71-62 and Georgia Tech never got closer than seven the rest of the way.
Quinton Stephens had 13 points and Mitchell finished with 12 for the Yellow Jackets.
This has been quite a week for Thomas, who Gregory called "an all-league-caliber player" after his second double-double in seven days. He had 31 points and 11 rebounds in the loss to Louisville, and followed that with 24 points in the Duke defeat before closing the week with a victory. "This feels good to get over the hump," Thomas said.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets' seven-point margin of defeat matched their second-most lopsided loss of the season. Their only double-digit loss came Dec. 23 at Dayton (75-61).
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons claimed their first win over Georgia Tech since 2012 and just their third since 2009-10.
Georgia Tech is home against Notre Dame on Wednesday night.
Wake Forest is at Syracuse on Tuesday night.
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