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Team Preview: High Point Panthers


Usually a game against a 2-5 Big South opponent that is 200+ in the KenPom ratings is not a cause for concern. But today's game is a special case. The Demon Deacons, reeling after an uninspired 35 minutes (and 5 minutes of the Spiders letting their guard down that made the final score seem closer than it actually was) against Richmond, go into one of the smaller gyms in Division I to play a true road game against High Point.

Many of the tickets are being held for students-only, and the place is going to be rocking. Major conference teams don't play road games like this often, so High Point fans are rightfully excited.

For the Deacs, they can't get complacent or show up flat like they did on Saturday against Richmond. It will be loud, it will be claustrophobic, it will be hostile, and a thin, young team like Wake Forest can ill afford to give anything less than a solid effort.

Wake is still a more talented team with better players than High Point, but as we saw in games like Stetson last year, talent isn't all that matters, and the Demon Deacons can't expect to stroll into the Mills Center and walk out with a victory.

Roster breakdown, stats and more after the jump...

Wake Forest Demon Deacons (5-3, KenPom 167, KenPom SOS 209) -- Best Win: Nebraska (61), Worst Loss: Arizona State (103), Biggest Strength: Turnover Percentage 18.3 (55), Glaring Weakness: oReb% 23.8 (329).

High Point Panthers(2-5, KenPom240, KenPom SOS 124) -- Best Win: The Citadel (307), Worst Loss: Hampton (237), Biggest Strength: 3P% 36.2 (97), 3PA/FGM 37.9 (78), Glaring Weakness: Defensive Efficiency 105.4 (285).

High Point is not a very deep team. It gets the majority of its scoring from four sources: Nick Barbour (16.1ppg), Corey Law (12.9ppg), Shay Shine (11.9ppg) and Xavier Martin (8.9ppg).

Barbour is your mid-major guard. He's a tough scorer who dominates the ball for the Panthers. He takes 30% of HP's shots, is shooting only 36%, but 44% from beyond the arc.

Law is a 6'6" F who almost averages a double-double and is extremely efficient with his scoring opportunities.

Shine and Martin are the other guards. Depending on what defense Wake plays, I expect the Panthers' backcourt to have a big game. I expect C.J. Harris to play on Barbour if the Deacs come out in man, so it will be up to Tony Chennault/Chase Fischer/Anthony Fields to lock down on Shine and Martin.

This would be a great game for the Deacs to go with a smaller lineup and finally leave Nikita Mescheriakov out of the mix. Starting Chennault, Harris, Fischer, Travis McKie and Carson Desrosiers is the best course of action for the Deacs. For Wake to have success though, Chennault has to make better decisions with the basketball, and Harris has to be more aggressive.

Wake is going to need to see a good game out of Fischer as well. He was tentative on Saturday and the Deacs do not have enough scoring options for him to have an invisible game. Every shot Nikita could take, Fischer should be taking.

Desrosiers needs to have a big game on the glass tonight as well. High Point is not a very big team, and Carson has to assert himself on both ends of the court. He doesn't have to score 15-20 points, but he absolutely needs to bring down at least 10 rebounds.

The Demon Deacons will have their hands full tonight in a raucous environment. A loss to the Panthers would drop the Deacs to 5-4. They absolutely need this game for their confidence, as they have another tough road test against Seton Hall on Saturday.

High Point should get a pretty good game out of their guards. Wake has had a really tough time rotating on the perimter, and if the Panthers hit some shots early, it could get ugly. The Deacs need to run a better offense, and take advantage of fast break opportunities.

Ultimately, if WF can get double-digits scoring out of McKie, Harris and Fischer, and Chennault plays a better game than he did on Saturday, the Deacs can control this one.

I just worry about a stagnant offense leading to a shell-shocked team mentality that will be tough to come back from in a small, hostile environment.

The Panthers have shown the ability to hang with a major conference team, losing to Purdue by just two points in November. This is the biggest home game High Point has played in recent memory, and that's definitely a dangerous proposition. I don't have a good feeling about this one.