Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Don't call it a comeback. SF makes his return to BSD with a recap of the heartbreaking loss to Duke last night, but there will be no haiku here. This game was an effort by the Deacs that had the #5 team in the country on the ropes at late as inside 2 minutes, and never looked like anything other than legitimate competition.
Devin Thomas: Still a beast, The great Ric Flair often said, "To be the man, you've gotta beat the man." In this game, "the man" in the paint was senior and Naismith watch list player Mason Plumlee. Devin was not better than Plumlee on this night, but boy was it ever a battle. Devin accrued a fantastic line of 15 points (7-10, 1-3), six rebounds, two assists, and two turnovers in a 25 minute stint plagued by foul trouble. If Devin had been able to stay out of foul trouble as Plumlee had, he may very well have equaled Plumlee's tremendous effort. There's also the fact that Devin held his own against a senior who is very likely an All-ACC player and possibly even an All-American, as a freshman.
Free throw shooting. 17-21, for a very strong 81%. Additional shout-outs to Arnaud William Adala Moto, who came into the game with at times woeful free throw work, but had a very good 5-6 effort last night.
Team effort. Sure, Devin Thomas, C.J. Harris, and Travis McKie were the primary sparks for the team, but everyone on the team stepped up and was able to come through with big plays, including Aaron Rountree III, Tyler Cavanaugh, and Madison Jones.
Three point defense. Duke shot 2-14 from long range for the game, and one of those threes was at the very end of the game by senior sharpshooter Seth Curry, who came in with an over 40% 3-point shooting average and only went 1-6 for the game.
The crowd. Granted, I was among them, but the crowd of over 12,000 had the Joel rocking from minute one, and the energy didn't abate for the entire night. I realize it hasn't been an easy few years, because I've been there for it too, but I hope the Screamin' Demons keep showing up, because we were THAT close, and this team continues to show that it deserves support. Think of what things could be like if we could consistently get that kind of energy in the building. Teams would, once again, fear the Joel. Much love to the crowd. Please keep it up, guys.
It's difficult for me to come up with too much bad considering how well the team played by and large, but I'd be remiss to not mention some things.
Three point shooting. 3-11 for 27.3%. Oof. We need to do better than that, especially on a team with guys who have clearly demonstrated they can hit from the outside.
Turnovers. 17 Wake Forest turnovers In a game that was as close as the one last night, that cannot happen. Even two or three fewer turnovers, and we may very well have won the game.
That Mason Plumlee guy is pretty good, might wanna put a body on him. Now I realize the dude is a senior and is unequivocally one of the best players in the country on one of the best teams in the country, but the number of uncontested layups and dunks that he had was seemingly close to double digits. Maybe it's not as bad as it seemed to me, all I know is it seemed like Plumlee had dunks aplenty, especially early in the game.
I realize we didn't win and that there's no such thing as a moral victory, but this is a Duke team that had a lot of bounces go their way on route to a five point victory. We were a couple better possessions away from knocking off another ranked, in-state rival in the Joel. Long term state of the program aside for the time being, we have come an INCREDIBLY long way from losing ACC games by an average of 20 points. Our kenpom chances in our remaining games changed pretty drastically after this game, and I can only hope the team continues to learn, grow, and play with no fear. Let's finally get a road win on Saturday, shall we? Go Deacs.