CHARLOTTESVILLE, JAN. 30 -- If nothing else, Lefty Driesell knows he's ahead of Muhammad Ali if Virginia Coach Terry Holland ever needs another assistant.
Driesell, primarily was responsible -- at least if you ask him -- for John Crotty's sudden shooting about-face today. The freshman guard scored 15 points on five-of-seven field goal shooting, including four-for-five three-point attempts, and the Cavaliers defeated Wake Forest, 69-64, before 7,340 at University Hall.
Ali stopped by Virginia's practice Wednesday for a few words and a few three-pointers, and the Cavaliers then went out and lost to Virginia Tech. But Driesell, in town today to do television color commentary, had a specific coaching mission in mind when he arrived.
Crotty, who had played for Driesell at last summer's Olympic Festival, entered today's game shooting just 32 percent from the field this winter for Virginia. Not to worry, Driesell said to Holland.
"Lefty told me, 'I know left-handers,' " Holland said. "I guess he does."
Crotty was the difference today. He scored seven points during an 8-0 run by Virginia in the final 3:05 of the first half as the Cavaliers took a 32-26 halftime lead they never relinquished.
"That's the kind of confidence boost I needed," said Crotty, who scored in double figures for the first time since Dec. 18. "I was just thinking about following through . . . The biggest thing was, I tried not to shoot like Lefty."
It was a day for the supporting cast on both sides. The Demon Deacons used gimmick defenses to control Mel Kennedy (12 points, four of 13 from the field), while Wake Forest forward Sam Ivy (10 points, five of 12 from the field) mostly stopped himself with foul trouble. David Carlyle, the offensive star in Wake Forest's upset victory over No. 3 North Carolina Thursday night, led the Demon Deacons against today. He scored 22 points, including three long three-pointers in the final 2:36 that almost brought Wake Forest back.
"We were just that half-step slow all day," said Carlyle, who scored the Demon Deacons' final 11 points. "We were mostly living on prayers, and a lot of them were answered, but we came up one or two prayers short."
The Cavaliers, on the other hand were living on the offensive boards. They finished with 17 offensive rebounds and were able to stay close through the early going despite shooting just 32 percent from the field in the first half. "We just couldn't keep them off the glass," Carlyle said.
Then came Crotty's barrage, so despite controlling the tempo and shooting 52 percent from the field in the first half, Wake Forest trailed by six at intermission. "It seems like it's always that way for us," Wake Forest Coach Bob Staak said. "Guys shooting 30 percent come in and knock down three-pointers like there's no tomorrow."
But even without Ivy, who committed his fourth foul with 10:41 to play, the Demon Deacons hung tough. After John Johnson's runner over Cal Boyd gave Virginia a 62-55 lead with 2:48 to go, Carlyle went to work. His third three-pointer, a 25-footer from well beyond the top of the key, brought Wake Forest within 67-64 with 32 seconds to go. But Kennedy hit both ends of a one-and-one and Carlyle's final bomb rimmed out.