Well, no one can say Wake didn't make it interesting. After Wake went down 23 points with about 10 minutes left, Wake rebounded with a 19-2 run, making it a two possession game with several minutes left. After an and-1 from Mason Plumlee that was a ... 50/50 call, shall we say (not blaming the refs for the loss, but I would be remiss to not mention a questionable, momentum-changing call), it was pretty much over, though Wake continued to battle until the very last moment. Again, I'm going to try to avoid talking too much about the coaching situation (except for one thing that bothers me that has to at least partly be on coaching) because it was a great game and the entire team showed a lot of heart.
Read more on this game of unlikely rallies and even unlikelier heroes after the jump...I'm not going to bother breaking down specific team-wide stats, and instead will simply make a few observations. Our interior defense was decent at least, but our perimeter D was absolutely atrocious. Duke was getting open looks from beyond the arc constantly it seemed, and that was what helped them get such a huge lead. Obviously given how close the game ended up being, if we had played better outside defense, we could have genuinely won the game. Our offense was decent; certainly not great percentage wise, but it was a varied attack (all five Deacs who scored were in double figures, interesting) and Wake only turned the ball over 10 times.
In the 19-2 run, Wake forced Duke into a flurry of turnovers, from steals to charges. It was fantastic to see such intelligent, hard-nosed basketball, and they didn't get flustered even when down 23 points to the No. 3 team in the nation. In the end, the problem was the usual problem, which is that at the beginning of the second half, the other team went on a huge run before the team composed themselves. I don't know whether it's coaching, a lack of motivation, some mixture of both ... I honestly have no idea. All I know is it's bad basketball, and it really can't continue if we want to have any level of success.
Now for some individual notes:
-Gotta start with the senior Nikita Mescheriakov. I give Nikita a lot of flack, but bless him, Nikita had a MAN'S game last night. 18 points (7-13, 2-3, 2-3), five rebounds, four assists and only one turnover in 33 minutes. Additionally, he busted his hump on defense, drawing charges, being aggressive and generally just playing smart basketball. Nikita, my man, last night you were The Russian Assassin. Godspeed, man. I'm a little sad I won't get to see any more of your strangely ineffectual half-wizardry in person.
-The other senior, Ty Walker, had a rougher night. He missed both of his shot attempts, but had four rebounds, an assist, and two blocks in 17 minutes to go along with an unfortunate team high three turnovers. I realize he has a couple more games between Tech and at least one ACC Tournament game, but Ty man, best of luck. You had a ... tumultuous career here, but I'm sure I speak for us all when I say the Joel will miss your presence in more ways than one.
-Tony Chennault was an unlikely hero in this game, just like Nikita was. In 34 minutes, the Philly product had 18 points (5-12, 0-3, 8-10), four rebounds, two assists, a steal and two turnovers. Watching this game really makes me wish TC had redshirted last year. He had little to gain, lost a year of eligibility, and honestly, he's started to play better the latter part of this year. It really feels like this has been his freshman campaign and that things are starting to come together for him.
-Travis McKie was his typically dependable self, with 14 points (6-10, 1-1, 1-1), four rebounds, an assist, and two turnovers in 30 minutes. The next two years, Travis and my next topic of discussion are going to be bad, bad men. I'm excited to see Travis work with a point guard like CMM next year.
-Speaking of the other half of Wake's double trouble, C.J. Harris actually had one of his worst games of the year. In 39 minutes, C.J. had 11 points (4-14, 1-6, 2-2), one rebound, two assists, two steals and a turnover. Here's hoping C.J. can rebound and absolutely go off on Georgia Tech and in the ACC Tournament.
-Carson Desrosiers proved in his 21 minutes that his offensive explosion last game was far from a fluke. The big man had 10 points (4-6, 2-4, 0-0), five rebounds, a block and a turnover. Clearly, Carson can shoot, and I'm glad to see he continued his aggressiveness in this game. I just hope going forward that he can up his rebounding capabilities.
-Daniel Green had a largely quiet 7 minutes, with one rebound, one block, and one turnover in that time.
-Chase Fischer, in 16 minutes, did not score (0-2), but had one rebound, one assist, one steal, and he continued to play aggressive defense.
If we play Georgia Tech like this (well, especially how we played during The Comeback That Never Was), I frankly think we've got a shot at blowing them out. GT is not a good three point shooting squad, which is where Duke really killed us in this game. Then again, it's in Atlanta, so I guess you never know.
I'm seriously proud of our guys. In a way it's almost irritating how close they came, but I love how much fight they showed, and I'd be lying if I said the past couple games didn't ever so slightly bolster my hopes for the future a little from the perspective of what these players are capable of.
On to the next one. Let's get it. Go Deacs.