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Harris leads Wake Forest past Furman, 79-55

Harris leads Wake Forest past Furman, 79-55

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) C.J. Harris scored 20 points and Wake Forest pulled away to beat Furman 79-55 on Tuesday night.

Travis McKie added 16 points and freshman Tyler Cavanaugh added 10 of his season-high 12 during the decisive spurt that bridged the halves for the Demon Deacons (5-5).

Playing their first game in 10 days because of final exams, they shot 53.8 percent on 28-of-52 shooting, outscored the Paladins 46-12 in the paint and used a 32-8 run during a span of roughly 11 minutes to cruise to just their second win since Nov. 23.

Stephen Croone and Colin Reddick scored 12 apiece for Furman (3-7). The Paladins had trouble with Wake Forest's length and full-court press, turning it over 13 times and losing for the fifth time in six games.

The Demon Deacons put this one out of reach shortly before and immediately after halftime, taking the lead for good early during a run of 10 straight points to end the half before coming out of the locker room and continuing to add to it.

That was thanks in large part to Cavanaugh, who had seven consecutive points late in the run. Devin Thomas' three-point play with 11:25 left capped the run and made it 59-38 - Wake Forest's largest lead of the season to that point.

Harris scored 20 for the second straight game, after his career-high 28-point night Dec. 8 against Seton Hall. In this one, he needed barely 8 minutes to reach double figures and surpassed his 13-point average by halftime with 16, hitting six of his first seven attempts and making 4 of 5 from 3-point range during the opening 20 minutes.

Still, it took a while for Wake Forest to separate itself from a Furman team that entered at No. 346 - of 347 Division I schools - in an unofficial online RPI replication and has just one win over a Division I team.

It wasn't until a run of 10 straight points during the final 2-plus minutes of the half that Wake Forest could exhale a bit, and Harris made the key plays that bookended the burst.

He started it with a 3 with 2:11 left that tied it at 30, and after McKie finished at the rim on consecutive possessions, Harris had a pretty feed that set up Cavanaugh's 3 with about 2 seconds before the buzzer, making it 37-30.

That came after Bryant Irwin's 3 from the corner gave Furman its last lead, 30-27, with 2:25 left.

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With Burakovsky out, is Chandler Stephenson the next man up?

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With Burakovsky out, is Chandler Stephenson the next man up?

With Andre Burakovsky out for the remainder of the first round at least, someone will have to replace him in the top six. Originally, it looked like Jakub Vrana was the man for the job. Based on Game 4, however, it now looks like Chandler Stephenson is the "next man up" for the Caps.

While Vrana may have top-six skill and a high ceiling, it was Stephenson who stepped into the second-line role on Thursday playing alongside Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie. Stephenson finished with two shots on goal in 17:28 of ice time. Vrana, meanwhile, played for only 6:40.

On Friday, Barry Trotz praised Stephenson's hockey IQ for allowing him to adjust to the top-six in a complementary role.

"[Stephenson's] an intelligent player," Trotz said. "He played with [Backstrom] a lot [Thursday]. If you talk with the real top-end guys, he has the ability to think like a top-end guy in terms of play with them. He’s a very intelligent player. He skates extremely well. He’s got some strength to his game. He can complement people. I think his ability to play those different roles and his hockey IQ when you play with those skill guys, he plays more of a give-and-go game than an individual game. When you play with those high skill guys, you’re able to compliment them very well."

Stephenson has spent the majority of the season on the fourth line. He was drafted as a natural center, but has played primarily wing since coming to the NHL. The ability to play both positions gives Stephenson more versatility than most forwards which Trotz credits for helping him see the game so well.

"The great thing about Chandler is he’s played multiple positions over the years. I think it’s allowed him to play a fourth-line role and with high-skill guys. At center-ice, you distribute the puck a little more.  He’s turning into a well-rounded player for us."

On the surface, having Stephenson on the fourth line over Vrana makes little sense. Vrana is highly skilled and has great speed, but he is also prone to giving up turnovers and his production can be inconsistent. Trotz has clearly put a premium on responsible play this postseason which gives Stephenson the edge.

But Game 4 was only one game. If you are going to get top-six minutes, Stephenson will be expected to produce offensively as well. Despite the limited ice time he has gotten, Vrana has shown he can have a major impact on games. In Game 1, he set up the team's only 5-on-5 goal and drew a penalty. In Game 3, he drew two penalties in less than two minutes, giving Washington a two-man advantage.

Stephenson had a fantastic game in Game 4 when he was given the chance to play in the top-six. The next step will be finding a way to have a bigger impact on the game.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 21, five days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington

Should the Redskins pursue Dez Bryant? This topic was one like a meteor, very hot for a short period of time before it quickly faded out. It started to heat up as soon as the Cowboys cut Dez (about a month too late) and when it was reported that he wanted to play against Dallas twice a year it really picked up steam. But then people started to actually think and figured out that signing Bryant didn’t make much sense for the Redskins. Add to that the reports that the Redskins had no interest and would not look into signing Dez in the future and the Redskins fans quickly lost enthusiasm for the topic.

Seven-round Redskins mock draft—I think that most Redskins fans would be happy with this mock. Well, I’ll say some Redskins fans, most is a pretty strong word in this case. 

Is the draft pool deep enough for the Redskins to trade back? There is plenty of talk about the Redskins trading down in the first round to recoup the third-round pick they gave up in the Alex Smith trade. But they need to be careful. Many consider the draft to be top heavy and they may lose their chance to pick up an impact player if they trade back too far. The question then becomes one of quality vs. quantity. 

Three questions as offseason workouts get underway—There will be plenty more questions that we can ask about this team. But we don’t really know what to ask before the draft, particularly when it comes to the defensive line and running back. One the personnel settle into place we will know what we don’t know. 

Tweet of the week

On Chris Cooley’s thought that the Redskins might try to trade back and get Da’Ron Payne in the draft and the use the assets obtained to move up to get Derrius Guice. 

This is related to the questions about trading back. On paper it looks like a good idea, assuming the Redskins want Payne. We’re pretty sure they would like to have Guice but we haven’t heard as much about the Alabama defensive lineman. 

I had many reply that Guice won’t be there in the second round. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, but you just don’t know. There was zero chance that Jonathan Allen would be there at No. 17 last year, right? 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 31
—Training camp starts (7/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 141

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