Bryant Crawford. There were a lot of phenomenal efforts today. I want to mention, by name, Devin Thomas, Mitchell Wilbekin, Trent VanHorn, and Greg McClinton (on the defensive end in particular). But Bryant Crawford absolutely exploded, going for 21 points (6-11 shooting, 2-3 from deep and 7-10 from the line), 7 assists, 4 rebounds, and only 2 turnovers. Considering he missed shots early, including layups, that's a remarkable day. Bryant needs to work on finishing throughout the game, but he finished when it counted, driving to the hole, hitting jumpers, and converting at the line, even in high pressure situations. He was also an assist machine, hitting both traditional dimes as well as some really fantastic no-look passes that were right on the money for easy buckets. This was the Bryant Crawford who was advertised coming into the year, and he is really fun to watch. If we can hopefully see the reinstatement of Cornelius Hudson and Rondale Wataon to shore up our backcourt and wing depth with a healthy Codi Miller-McIntyre also in the rotation, I honestly believe the Deacs may have one of the deeper teams among the middle off the pack ACC squads.
Second Half Defense. The Demon Deacons held Bucknell to 25% shooting (7-28) in the second half. You'll take that 100% of the time, especially for a team that can fill it up (as was evident in the first half). Well done by the Deacs, to a man. Special shoutout to Trent VanHorn, who did a killer job guarding Bucknell star Chris Hass. Do work, TVH. Also worth noting Wake Forest held Bucknell without a single field goal the last three and a half minutes. Fantastic effort overall.
Owning The Paint And The Glass. Paint points, 42-22 advantage Deacs. Rebounding margin, +13 Deacs. Second chance points, 17-8 Wake Forest. With the composition of our team, especially with the injury and suspension issues, the heart of our team is in the front court, and we need them to continue to dominate inside if we want continued success. Thankfully, I think we have just the right coach for that job, and I think the backcourt will also improve as experience grows and players return,
A fourth, because I feel like it:
Taking Care Of The Ball. 9 turnovers all game. Good stuff, Deacs.
Defense In The First Half. Bucknell shot 17-34, 8-15 from deep in the first half. That is just atrocious defense and cannot happen. They sure tightened up in the second half, but no team should ever get that kind of shooting gallery against us.
Transition Defense. There were many instances where the Deacs would score impressively, and only saunter back on defense, leading to easy buckets or foul shots on the other end. Can't happen. Speaking of foul shots...
Bucknell Making A Living At The Stripe. I mentioned the amazing field goal defense down the stretch, but in the second half, the Bison went 17-20 from the line. The Deacs committed way too many fouls down the stretch, often off the ball. It wouldn't even have been close if we had been able to defend without fouling.
The Bottom Line
A great, hard fought road win against a team that, while a mid-major, will likely be a front-runner in their conference. We were down 13 points, and ended up winning by 8. That's a 21 point swing, and we went up by as many as 11. That makes for one heck of a halftime adjustment. Not only that, we exploded right out of the gate in the second half, going on a 10-0 run within the first few minutes.
Heck of a win, and encouraging in both the short term and the long term. 2-0, a win on the road, and hopefully an emergent performance from Bryant Crawford that may bring him significant confidence going forward. Richmond is scary, but man if we could go 3-0 with these injuries and our schedule, that would truly be incredible. I trust in Danny Manning more and more by the day. On to the next. Go Deacs.