Robert O'Kelley scored all 10 of Wake Forest's points in the final 2:09 of overtime Tuesday night and the Demon Deacons beat Illinois 75-73 in the opening game of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Madison Square Garden.
O'Kelley, the Atlantic Coast Conference's
Wake Forest will play the winner of the game between No. 7 Temple and Georgetown in Wednesday night's championship game.
Illinois, which lost all five starters from last season and has eight sophomores and freshmen on its 11-man roster, scored the first six points of overtime to take a 70-64 lead with 2:46 left.
Rafael Vidaurreta made one of two free throws for Wake Forest, which has 11 sophomores and freshmen on its 14-man roster, with 2:31 left. Then it was all O'Kelley, who finished with 24 points, well above his 16.6 average of last season.
O'Kelley made two free throws with 2:09 left to bring the Demon Deacons within 70-67. Cory Bradford, who led Illinois with 20 points, made one free throw with 1:58 left. O'Kelley, who had 13 points in the first half, then made his first field goal at in 25:58, nailing a 3-pointer.
After a steal by Wake Forest's
| Robert O'Kelley, left, was focused on leading the Deacons. (AP) |
O'Kelley made two free throws with 19 seconds left for a 74-73 lead. Illinois worked the clock down to nine seconds and Bradford blew past O'Kelley at the head of the key, but Joseph Amonett stepped in and took the charge. A free throw by O'Kelley with 7.4 seconds left made it 75-73 and Bradford's final shot with two seconds left fell short.
Sergio McClain, Illinois' leading returning scorer from last season at 3.5 points per game, added 17 points, while Cleotis Brown had 14.
Freshman Craig Dawson had eight points, including two 3-pointers, in the final 2:16 of regulation for Wake Forest, his only points of the game.
Illinois tied the game 64-64 on a 3-pointer by Rich Beyers with 53 seconds left in regulation and each team had one possession the rest of the way, but O'Kelley and Beyers each missed a shot.
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