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Coffee Talk: Wake Forest @ Georgia Tech

It's time for this week's edition of coffee talk. Today Jake and I discuss the Deacs' matchup against the Rambling Wreck tonight in Atlanta. 

MRickman: So here we are, 14-4, 4-2 in conference and staring down a meeting with Tech, what do you make of the season so far?

WakeJake: Any Wake fan has to be pleased so far. Coming into the season there were a bunch of question marks, but the Deacs have responded particularly well and will likely hear their name called on Selection Sunday. The lost scoring of Teague and Johnson has been made up for by increased production from Al-Farouq Aminu and Ish Smith and, perhaps the biggest surprise, the scoring of CJ Harris and Ari Stewart.


MRickman: And this game is a homecoming for Ari. Do you see him busting out, or do you think he might get the feeling that he has to do too much?

WakeJake: For some unknown reason I'm not feeling a big night from Stewart. Hopefully he will be able to knock down a couple deep ones though to keep the Tech defense honest. The guy I think will have a big homecoming game will be Aminu. Lawal used to take Aminu to school in the morning when they were teammates at Norcross, so I would not be surprised if Farouq stepped up his game just a little more with this extra incentive. I'm sure he will have plenty of family in attendance as well.

As far as his old teammate goes, how can Wake expect to limit the beast that is Gani Lawal?

MRickman:  I don't know if you necessarily try to limit Lawal. This is always a topic of conversation, but it's that old philosophy of whether or not you let the guy in the middle beat you or the shooters beat you. With Tech, I would much rather put pressure on the guards.

Wake's perimeter defense has been a real strength this year, so if you D up against guys like Glen Rice Jr., Brian Oliver, Mfon Udofia and Iman Shumpert, it might make Lawal's 15-20 irrelevant. Plain and simple, Lawal is going to score, but if Wake makes sure to crash the boards and do enough to force GT's ballhandlers to turn it over and get some easy transition buckets out of it, that's sounds like a decent game plan to me.

WakeJake: You make a good point. I have seen quite a few GT games this season and often the guards seem to forget that they have one of the best frontcourts in the nation. I think L.D. Williams will do a good job on Shumpert and Ish can limit Udofia as well. Much like the Carolina Coffee Talk when I said we need to keep a close eye on Will Graves, the Deacs need to watch Brian Oliver tonight. Oliver can really light it up from behind the arc if he gets the space.

The only downside to the Deacs great 3-point defense is the amount of long rebounds and second chance points for the other team. Lawal and Favors are particularly good in this area, so Wake's bigs are really going to have to work hard tonight to clean the glass.

MRickman: What do you make of Derrick Favors so far? In the games I've seen him he's obviously a physical talent, but he's had a bit of trouble staying in control. Will Wake be able to bother him enough to take him out of his game?

WakeJake: Favors will obviously be a big money guy in the future, but right now he is not close to the level of Lawal in my opinion. He can certainly throw it down and has good hands, but often his lack of solid footwork keeps him from producing at an even higher level. He will probably have his average night, scoring on rebounds and dunks courtesy of his guards. Let's move to the other side of the ball now - - what do you expect to see from the Deacs on offense?

MRickman: More of the same. It begins and ends with Ish Smith. If he can get to the hoop at will like he has been able to lately, we could see some open looks for C.J., Gary and Ari. One thing I am interested to see is how the bigs will respond. Chas McFarland has woken up in a big way and Wake will need him to continue to play at a high level.

My pick for a surprise game is Tony Woods tonight. He's another Georgia product and I think he has been building on the good things he's been doing lately. I'm not saying he's going to score 30, but we might get a solid 6-10 out of him, with at least one big dunk.

WakeJake: Six to 10 from TWoods usually means 3-5 big dunks.

MRickman: Touché.

WakeJake: As I said earlier, I think Aminu will have a big game as well as Ish Smith, both tallying between 17-22 points. The difference will be if either Harris or McFarland has one of their better games. if one of these guys can ramp it up tonight, Wake could steal one in Atlanta.

MRickman: I'm not super confident. Last year's loss in Atlanta left a bad taste in my mouth and I don't want to predict a W and end up jinxing it. In fact, in our preview last year I said that Wake would win by 14. Oops. I agree with you, Wake needs to get some help from the supporting cast. I just have a funny feeling that we're going to get a fighting and clawing Tech team tonight. I hope I'm wrong though, but this thing is going to be a battle.

WakeJake: And that is the perfect lead-in for my final bold predictions: Georgia Tech really needs this game in the ACC standings and Wake is always pretty terrible at the Thriller Dome. I have the Ramblin' Wreck taking this one 68 to 64. It will definitely be a fight throughout and I feel pretty certain that either Chas McFarland or Zach Peacock will get a technical and possibly ejected.

The Deacs will head back to Winston-Salem pretty bruised up, but will have plenty of time to recover this weekend and give the Hurricanes a good whoopin' on Tuesday.

MRickman: Sounds about right to me. I'm really praying I can find this game online somewhere, but if not, I'll be enjoying it with Stan and Dinger.

WakeJake: I'll be watching with GTJosh, hoping that I have some braging rights for the next couple weeks. Go Deacs!