Branden Carlson, Utah beat Wake Forest to open tourney

Branden Carlson scored 31 points and Utah rallied from a 12-point deficit early in the second half to defeat Wake Forest 77-70 on Thursday night in the nightcap of the Charleston Classic at Charleston, S.C.

Carlson, a senior center, made 12 of 20 shots from the field while sinking four 3-pointers.

Cole Bajema added 11 points and Lawson Lovering had 10 points for the Utes, while Rollie Worster had nine points, nine assists and five rebounds.

In a semifinal game on Friday, Utah (3-0) will meet No. 6 Houston (4-0), a 65-49 winner against Towson in an earlier game. Wake Forest (1-2) faces Towson (2-2) in a consolation game.

Hunter Sallis pumped in 20 points for Wake Forest. Cameron Hildreth provided 14 points, Andrew Carr 13 points and Zach Keller 10.

Wake Forest closed within 70-68 on Parker Friedrichsen’s 3-pointer at the 2:27 mark. That was Friedrichsen’s second trey in just over two minutes after he had been scoreless. He scored all of Wake Forest’s points off the bench.

But the Demon Deacons missed their next three shots and didn’t score again until Keller’s basket with 17 seconds left.

The Utes used an 11-0 run to go up 65-60. During that spurt, Utah went ahead on Carlson’s 3-point basket. It was their first lead since 18-17 midway through the first half.

Bajema’s trey stretched the margin to 68-63, and Carlson struck again from long range with 41 seconds left to make it 75-68.

Both teams dealt with second-half foul trouble among their interior players. Utah finished with a 38-27 rebounding advantage.

Wake Forest attempted only six free throws.

Wake Forest led 41-31 at halftime — with both teams shooting over 53 percent from the field — and then scored the first two points of the second half. The difference in the opening half was that the Demon Deacons went 7-for-11 on 3-pointers. They were just 3-for-14 in the second half.