Wake Forest's Chris Paul, top, and Virginia Commonwealth's Alexander Harper, bottom, chase a loose ball during the first half in Winston-Salem, N.C., Thursday Nov. 18, 2004.
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. Chris Paul scored 16 points despite taking just three shots from the field Thursday night to help No. 2 Wake Forest beat Virginia Commonwealth 81-67 in the Preseason NIT.
Paul hit 14 of 15 free throws and had five assists for the Demon Deacons (2-0), who head to New York for next week's semifinal matchup with Providence.
Justin Gray added 14 points and was one of five Wake Forest players in double figures.
Alexander Harper led the Rams (1-1) with 17 points.
The game was a rematch of last year's first-round NCAA tournament game, won by Wake Forest 79-78. In that game, the Rams were tied going into the final 90 seconds before Paul made several plays to help the Demon Deacons survive.
This time, Wake Forest used an 18-0 first-half run to go ahead to stay though it had to fight off several Rams runs and its own inconsistency.
No. 5 Syracuse 71, No. 12 Mississippi St. 58
NEW YORK Hakim Warrick scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half and Syracuse beat Mississippi State in the semifinals of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. The Orange (3-0) will play No. 24 Memphis on Friday night in the championship game at Madison Square Garden.
Warrick had 10 rebounds and Gerry McNamara finished with nine points and seven assists for Syracuse, which went 21-for-31 from the field in the second half (67.7 percent). Warrick had six points in an 11-0 run to open the half, and the Orange stayed ahead by about 10 to 12 points the rest of the way.
Lawrence Roberts, the Southeastern Conference player of the year last season, had nine points and 12 rebounds in his first game of the season for the Bulldogs (2-1). He missed the opener because of an NCAA suspension and their second game while recovering from a broken nose.
Playing with a face mask, Roberts was 2-for-9 from the field and never looked comfortable in his 28 minutes. Shane Power had 18 points for Mississippi State, which shot 31.3 percent for the game (20-for-64).
No. 10 Arizona 83, Wright St. 66
TUCSON, Ariz. Salim Stoudamire scored 24 points, including 6-of-9 shooting on 3-pointers, and Arizona beat Wright State in the second round of the Preseason NIT.
The Wildcats (2-0) play Michigan in the semifinals next Wednesday in New York.
Channing Frye had 13 points and Hassan Adams 10 for Arizona. Isaiah Fox, suspended from Tuesday's opener for violating team rules, had 10 points and a team-high eight rebounds.
Zakee Boyd scored a career-high 24 points for the Raiders (1-1).
No. 19 N.C. State 71, Elon 45
RALEIGH, N.C. Julius Hodge scored 21 points on his 21st birthday to join an exclusive group of Atlantic Coast Conference players, leading North Carolina State past Elon in the semifinals of the BCA Invitational. The Wolfpack (2-0) advanced to play East Carolina for the championship.
Hodge now has 1,505 points and 303 assists in his career, becoming the 18th player in the 52-year history of the ACC to record at least 1,500 points, 500 rebounds and 300 assists. Anthony Grundy is the only other N.C. State player to reach those totals.
Teammate Ilian Evtimov added 10 points. Matt Nowlin had 16 points for Elon (1-1), which shot 38 percent.
No. 24 Memphis 81, Saint Mary's 66
NEW YORK Rodney Carney scored a career-high 33 points and Memphis ended the surprising tournament run of Saint Mary's in the semifinals of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.
Carney, a 6-foot-7 junior, had 20 points in the first half. His 3-pointer started a 10-0 run that broke a 17-all tie and he scored six points in a 9-0 run that gave the Tigers (3-0) a 38-22 lead with 3:17 left in the half.
Saint Mary's (2-1), which beat California in the quarterfinals, was the lone mid-major in the field of 16 to reach the semifinals at Madison Square Garden. Daniel Kickert had 24 points and nine rebounds for the Gaels.
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