Truthfully, most of everything could and should go here, but I'll do my best to narrow it down.
Really good defense, especially on-ball pressure. The Deacs had some questionable defense early, but after they started pressing Furman, they started forcing turnovers (13 for the game, though it felt like more), it really opened things up for them. Aaron Rountree III is a one-man press; it's honestly absurd how disruptive he can be with those long arms of his. Madison Jones was also incredibly disruptive.
C.J. Harris and Travis McKie leading again. C.J. Harris had a spectacular 20 points (8-10 shooting, 4-6 from beyond the arc) and five assists, with only two turnovers. Travis McKie had a workman's 16 points (5-8, 6-7 from the line), six rebounds, one assist, and two steals. Travis admittedly had a team high three turnovers, but I'm okay with that when he performs like that.
Spectacular ball movement. 17 assists on 28 baskets and only nine turnovers? Yes please.
Codi Miller-McIntyre came to play. Six points (3-6, 0-1, 0-0), four rebounds, four assists, a steal, and only one turnover in 25 minutes. Two of Codi's baskets were on thunderous dunks, and he definitely showed off some of his athleticism tonight. Admittedly, it's not a crazy stat line, but it's really solid, and Codi is beginning to show some of the skills that he was so highly touted for coming in.
Great free throw shooting. 18-22 for 82%, and that's without C.J. Harris taking a single attempt. Really really good stuff there by the Deacs tonight.
Finishing around the rim. Now admittedly, this was much more of a problem early, but the Deacs continued to show struggles with finishing easy shots close to the bucket.
Finishing out strong defensive possessions. Twice in the game the Deacs forced the Paladins to take desperation shots at the end of the shot clock, and one of them ended up being an admittedly rather lucky three. Still, that sort of thing is incredibly frustrating, and something the Deacs should continue to work on.
Too many offensive rebounds for Furman. Now admittedly, Wake still comfortably won the battle of the boards, 32-24, but eight offensive rebounds is far too many to be giving up in my opinion. Still, the Deacs played so well on both sides of the ball that it thankfully barely mattered.
Regardless of the level of competition, I'm reasonably certain I'd call this the best overall game by any team during Coach Bzdelik's tenure. Yes, we should blow out Furman, but by golly, we actually did. We doubled the spreads projected by both Kenpom and Vegas. and really looked like a cohesive basketball team. Much love also goes to Tyler Cavanaugh, who had a great game. I'm scarcely going to say this means the end of the dark days, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't feel pretty darn good. Before this game, Kenpom had us losing on Saturday to UNG on the road by three with 40% chance for Wake to win, but I expect that projection might shift after this game. Still, let's remove all doubt and house them too. I realize we lost to Seton Hall and Richmond, but frankly, I feel like we've been on a run of pretty good basketball games. Let's hope we can keep it up and go beyond. Go Deacs.
Furman vs Wake Forest Basketball Highlights (via ACCDigitalNetwork)