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CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Wake Forest coach Danny Manning is ready to face No. 3 Villanova, even if he's fairly certain his Demon Deacons won't have a similar offensive outburst as they did to run past UTEP.
John Collins scored a career-high 24 points and Bryant Crawford had 20 in Wake Forest's 103-81 victory, the first time in eight years it surpassed the century mark in a game.
Shots fell early and often as the Demon Deacons, 3-0 for the first time since 2013-14, took a double-digit lead early and were rarely pressed by UTEP (1-1). Next up, though, are the national champion Wildcats with a spot in the Charleston finals on the line.
"We're excited," Manning said. "It's the chance to play, rightfully so, one of the teams that higher ranked in the country."
And one that will do its best to ensure Wake Forest doesn't shoot almost 60 percent from the field as it did against UTEP (35 of 59, 59.3 percent).
"It's going to be a challenge, but it's something we welcome," Manning said. "We'll see where we're at."
Wake Forest put things away with a torrid first half where it went 13 of 20 from behind the arc. Dinos Mitgolou had four 3-pointers while Austin Arians, Mitchell Wilbekin, Crawford and Keyshawn Woods each had two the first 20 minutes.
"I don't think we were close (defensively) on any of those shots," said UTEP's frustrated coach, Tim Floyd.
UTEP (1-1) plays Western Michigan, which fell to Villanova in the eight-team tournament's first game, on Friday in the consolation round.
The Demon Deacons led 63-44 lead at the break, the first time they had reached 60 points or more in half since the 2008-09 season when it accomplished that against UNC Wilmington. That was also the last game they finished with 100 points or more, defeating the Seahawks 120-88.
Wake Forest couldn't quite get that many, but did more than enough to move past UTEP.
Collins, at 6-foot-10, made nine of 10 shots — all in the second half — including several jams to break his previous high of 19 set last November against Bucknell.
Mitgolou finished with 18 points and Keyshawn Woods 16 for Wake Forest. Dominic Artis led UTEP with 24 points.
Wake Forest wants to run and did so at will against the Miners. Things will get considerably tougher against Villanova, the national champions known for its in-your-face defense.
UTEP had few answers to slow down the Deacons. Artis did his share, hitting three 3-pointers. The team, though was 5 of 14 from behind the arc with many of the misses triggering the Wake Forest transition game.
Manning like his team's outside touch early on. But at halftime, he stressed to his players about looking for the Deacons big men, Collins and Mitgolou down low and give them touches. The result was Collins' big performance, something the team will look to duplicate against Villanova. "It's going to tell us where we are and what we need to do," Crawford said.
UTEP coach Tim Floyd had nothing good to say about his team's defense. He said his team did not rebound well or slow Wake Forest's transition game. Evidence? "We shot 60 percent (18 of 30) in the first half were down 19," Floyd said.
Wake Forest will face No. 3 Villanova on Friday with the winner advancing to Sunday night's championship game.
UTEP will take on Western Michigan on Friday in the consolation round.
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