Points per Minute
Last 8 mins of past 3 games.....1.125
The nation's eighth highest scoring team is having an interesting problem in the last eight minutes of games. They can't score.
The Wake Forest Demon Deacons (17-3, 4-3 ACC) are averaging an impressive 81.4 PPG, despite their 52 point effort against Miami last Wednesday. In fact, the Deacons haven't scored above their average since their Jan. 11 matchup against UNC, at which point they were averaging almost 86 PPG.
So why the drop in performance?
We must first acknowledge the quality of teams - and defenses - that Wake has been playing recently. Since that UNC game, Wake has played six straight top-100 teams according to kenpom.com, including #1 Duke and #11 Clemson.
Wake's offensive struggles, however, do not last 40 minutes. Thirty-two minutes into the Georgia Tech game Wake was on pace to finish with 85, but after only mustering six points in the final eight minutes of the game, Wake ended with only 74, and a loss.
A scoring drought in the final eight minute stretch seems to be a recurring theme for a young Wake team. In their past three games, Wake has averaged only 1.125 points per minute in the last eight, compared to their season average of 2.035. To put this in perspective, 1.125 points per minute extrapolates out to equal 45 points per game, 4.1 PPG less than the nation's lowest scoring team (N.J.I.T.). So if you were watching the final few minutes of the Duke, G Tech, or Miami game and screaming "We must have the worst offense in the nation!"... you were right.
A scoring drop-off this big cannot be explained just through a "slower late game pace" or "fatigue." The team, often noted for their youth and inexperience, has a tendency to break out their routine of set plays and solid passing, and resort more to individual efforts. And whether they tense up and get nervous or are trying to impress the NBA scouts, it's not working. NBA players play their best in the last 8 minutes, and they don't do it alone.
Scoring breakdown (last 8 minutes of past 3 games)
Teague - 9
Johnson - 4
Aminu - 4
Weaver - 3
Williams - 2
Smith - 2
Hale - 2
McFarland - 1
It has been said that you win or lose the game in the last few minutes. Wake found that out the hard way against Georgia Tech. And even though they beat Duke on a last second play, it wasn't before seeing their 13 point lead turn into a tie game.
In the last 8 minutes of the past three games Wake Forest has managed only 2 assists. Two. If Wake wants to continue to have success in big games and then in the big dance, they are going to need to start playing like a team. A team for 40 minutes.