Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
I was getting flashbacks to the heartbreaking Seton Hall loss when Xavier rallied from 11 down to take a one point lead with seven minutes remaining. However, the Deacs refused to lose, and didn't give Xavier another chance as Devin Thomas took the lead back on the following possession, and Wake never trailed again. It was a game of runs, at times wonderful and at times infuriating, but there's no question that when the chips were down, the Deacs were going to make a statement.
Codi Miller McIntyre: The Third Hero. I said in our Q&A with Xavier SBN blog Banners On The Parkway (give them some love, folks) that in order to win, Wake would need to find a third scoring option, and on this night it was Codi Miller-McIntyre. Codi had an AMAZING offensive night, with 16 points on seven shots, a perfect 2-2 from beyond the arc (including a miracle dagger three late), three assists, and only one turnover in 28 minutes. Admittedly, Travis McKie and C.J. Harris also had great nights with 19 points and 15 points respectively, but Codi asserted his will, and I hope he continues to become a scoring threat and make everyone around him better.
Devin Thomas is a MAN. Only seven points on as many shots, but an absolutely staggering 14 rebounds, to go with an assist, a block, and two steals. He needs to work some on his shooting defense (I'll get to that below) but he was truly a monster out there tonight, and sent a message to the ACC that he's not to be trifled with.
Drawing fouls and getting to the line. 27 team fouls on Xavier leading to 29 free throw attempts for the Deacs. The shooting of those free throws was an entirely different matter, but I'll get to that.
Good defense, mostly. Xavier shot 43% as a team and an awful 1-8 from beyond the arc. Not only that, the percentage was boosted a fair amount by a beastly performance by Travis Taylor, who went 9-10 shooting. Take out that outlier and Xavier, as a team, shot 30% from the floor. Wake also forced 20 turnovers in a variety of ways.
Taking our feet off the gas. Wake was up 11. and didn't score for several minutes. I was really getting flashbacks to the Seton Hall game, and it was not good. I love the guys for getting that lead, but they need to hold onto it and, yes, expand on it.
Free throw shooting. 16-29, for 55%. We have to do better than that.
Questionable decisions and ballhandling late. I don't know how this happened, but we were struggling to retain possession when Xavier was in desperation mode. That's the one time you should be able to easily take care of the ball. Hold on long enough, and they'll foul and send you to the line.
Travis Taylor ate our lunch inside. 18 points on 9-10 shooting, and 10 rebounds. Taylor was literally the only one keeping Xavier alive for a fair portion of the game. Now in fairness, Taylor is legit, averaging 11.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game on over 50% shooting, but YIKES.
Overall, I'd call this the best win of the Bzdelik era. Not only is Xavier a top 100 team, but again, this win was not a fluke. Wake was up double digits in the second half, and had some stretches of brilliant play. Not only that, but it's not a fluke in the larger body of work on the year either. Wake is riding a three game winning streak, and we only have two really bad losses on the year, the Iona game and the Nebraska game, and Iona is at least a top 100 squad. This team seems to be learning and improving in genuine, demonstrable ways, which is new for this era, but I like it.
Good win. This next game will be rough, but let's see if we can make it interesting. Go Deacs.