ATLANTA -- When Georgia Tech is playing this way -- spreading the shots around, pounding the boards and making it tough for opponents to even get the ball up to the rim -- the Yellow Jackets are nearly impossible to beat.
Wake Forest never had a chance Thursday night.
D'Andre Bell led a balanced offense with 16 points, Derrick Favors blocked five shots and No. 22 Georgia Tech pulled away early in the second half for a 79-58 rout of the Demon Deacons.
"I'm not sure we can play much better than that," Yellow Jackets coach Paul Hewitt said.
Gani Lawal went a step further.
"There's no doubt in my mind," he said, breaking into a confident grin, "that when we're on top of our game, we're the best team in the league."
Coming off a tough loss at Florida State, the Yellow Jackets (15-5, 4-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) ripped off a 19-4 run to break open a tight game. As usual in its ACC victories, Georgia Tech did its best work at the defensive end, holding the Demon Deacons (14-5, 4-3) almost 19 points below their scoring average for the season.
Wake Forest shot only 33 percent from the field (21 of 64), including a dismal 3-of-18 showing beyond the arc, to put only two players in double figures: Al-Farouq Aminu with 15 points and Ishmael Smith with 12.
"They're real physical," said Aminu, the ACC's leading rebounder but outmanned by Georgia Tech's inside duo of Lawal and Favors. "They're very athletic. They take it to you. They're good players."
Georgia Tech let nearly everyone in on the offense. Lawal had 14 points and Brian Oliver added 13, while Iman Shumpert and Favors chipped in with 11 each. Favors and Lawal also had nine rebounds apiece, leading the Yellow Jackets to a 43-34 edge on the boards -- 27-10 in the second half.
"We want to be a defensive-minded, physical team," Lawal said. "We want to pound teams on the inside. That's our strength."
After the Deacons scored the first two baskets of the second half to close a six-point deficit to 35-33, Georgia Tech took control.
Lawal got it started, hitting a shot on the inside, drawing a foul on Aminu and knocking down the free throw to complete the three-point play. Shumpert followed with a 3-pointer, then swished a smooth jumper. Just like that, Georgia Tech had its first double-digit lead of the night, 45-35.
The Yellow Jackets didn't let up -- at either end. Lawal got loose on the inside for a dunk, Oliver knocked down another 3, Favors went back inside for yet another easy one and Bell closed out the run with a pair of free throws.
Wake Forest, on the other hand, missed seven of eight shots from the field and four consecutive free throws, allowing Georgia Tech to turn it into a laugher.
It was tough for the Demon Deacons to get off any shots at all with the 6-foot-10 Favors lurking in the lane.
"That's pretty much my game," said the freshman, who has hit the weight room to bulk up his lanky frame. "I didn't have any foul trouble, so I felt comfortable on defense."
The Yellow Jackets wound up shooting 54 percent (29 of 54) to easily win their sixth straight against the Demon Deacons in Atlanta. Georgia Tech needed this one, coming off a final-minute, two-point loss at Florida State last weekend.
"We're a pretty good defensive team," said Wake Forest coach Dino Gaudio, whose team had been ranked fifth in the country, allowing opponents to make only 37 percent from the field. "I don't think anyone in a long time has shot 54 percent against us."
In its ACC victories, the Yellow Jackets have held Duke, North Carolina, Clemson and Wake Forest nearly 16 points below their cumulative scoring averages for the season.
"They took us out of a lot of stuff we wanted to try to do," Gaudio said, "and they really shot the ball well."