WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. Darius Songaila helped Lithuania to a bronze medal in the Olympics. He looks ready to lead No. 4 Wake Forest toward an Atlantic Coast Conference championship.
The unbeaten Demon Deacons, playing in their biggest ACC game since the Tim Duncan era, rolled over previously undefeated and No. 8 Virginia 96-73 Tuesday night in the league opener for both teams.
And it was another big guy who led the way as Wake Forest scored its most points against Virginia since 1968.
The 6-foot-9, 245-pound Songaila was 11-of-12 from the field and scored a career-high 27 points for the Demon Deacons (12-0), who shot 58 percent and won their 17th straight dating to last year's NIT championship.
"He's a killer. He's a mangler," Virginia coach Pete Gillen said of the Wake Forest junior. "He kills innocent bystanders sometimes in the post. He was knocking people around and if you can do that he's going to be tough to guard.
"When bodies are cracking all over you've got to respond, you've got to crack back," Gillen added. "We didn't crack back enough."
Songaila scored 22 points against the Cavaliers last March when he hit 14 of 14 free throws.
"Against certain people Darius is going to be very, very dominating and tonight was one of those nights no matter who they put on him," Wake Forest coach Dave Odom said.
The Cavaliers (10-1) trailed for only 7:34 of 400 minutes coming into the game and had won all of their games by at least 16 points. But Virginia led for only three possessions in this one as Wake Forest held the Cavs to 41 percent shooting.
The percentage snapped Wake Forest's run of holding 18 straight teams under 40 percent, but that was little consolation for a stunned Virginia squad.
"The defense is a key for us," Odom said. "I see they hit the 40 (percent) mark and that's not pleasing, but like every streak, they come to an end."
Chris Williams led the Cavaliers, off to their best start in eight years, with 18 points, but leading scorer Roger Mason (16.2) was held to a season-low five.
No. 13 North Carolina 84, Georgia Tech 70
Atlanta Joseph Forte scored 20 points and the Tar Heels bounced back from a 12-point halftime deficit to win their eighth straight. North Carolina (10-2) built a 14-5 lead less than five minutes into the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams before the Yellow Jackets reeled off a stunning 24-3 spurt. Tony Akins led Georgia Tech with 23 points.
No. 14 Syracuse 79, No. 21 Notre Dame 70
Syracuse, N.Y. Allen Griffin scored 11 of his 20 points over the final 3:42 and Damone Brown had 26 points and 13 rebounds for the second straight game as the Orangemen won the Big East opener for both teams. It was the fifth straight win for Syracuse (12-1) over the Irish (8-3) and another disappointment for Troy Murphy, who has yet to participate in a win over the Orangemen. He finished with 19 points and only five rebounds as the Irish saw their four-game winning streak snapped.
No. 17 Maryland 104, Clemson 92
Clemson, S.C. Terence Morris scored 18 of his 26 points in the second half and Maryland won its ninth straight by pulling away over the final five minutes of the Atlantic Coast Conference opener.
No. 18 Alabama 92, SE Louisiana 63
Tuscaloosa, Ala. Rod Grizzard scored 22 points to lead the Crimson Tide to their 10th straight home victory. Terrance Meade and Erwin Dudley each had 14 points, while Gerald Wallace scored 13 and Alfred Moss had 10 for Alabama (11-1).