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Maui Invitational Semifinals: Vanderbilt Defeats Wake Forest 86-64

The talent and experience of Vanderbilt was too much for Wake Forest to overcome, as the Deacs fell in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Vanderbilt advanced to the finals of the 2015 Maui Invitational with an 86-64 victory over the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.

The Deacs put forth a valiant effort, but dug an early hole against an experienced, talented Commodores team that proved to be too much to overcome.

The 'Dores jumped out to an early 21-5 lead, but Wake Forest refused to fold like theyd did a few years back against Iona, fighting back to pull within 26-22 a few minutes later. Unfortunately from there Vanderbilt finished the half on a 17-6 run to take a 43-28 lead into the half.

The second half was more of the same as Vanderbilt coasted to an easy victory.

Big man Damian Jones showed by some think he could be a first round draft pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, as he showcased a variety of skills inside the three-point line. He finished with a double-double, tallying 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Wad Baldwin IV also showed a diverse game finishing with 17 points of his own. He knocked down some deep three pointers and also chipped in four rebounds, two assists, and two steals.

The Deacs were led by freshman point guard Bryant Crawford early on, but opened the game 2-16 from the field. In a game versus a team as good as Vanderbilt, shooting woes like that will be nearly impossible to overcome.

Crawford finished with 15 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds.

Freshman John Collins played the most minutes he has ever played in his early Demon Deacon career, resulting in 14 points and 7 rebounds. He also picked up his first career technical late in the game after getting tangled up after a VanHorn basket,

The more I see out of Collins and Crawford, the more excited I become at what Wake can do over the next four years. These guys have a passion for the game, understand the game, and are more ready to play as freshmen than any players I have seen in a while in Old Gold and Black.

Trent VanHorn set a career high with 12 points on 10 shots.

Overall Wake Forest played hard, albeit with extreme lapses defensively. The biggest frustration that I have in watching the team early on is its inability to pick up man-to-man defense in transition. It shouldn't be that hard to find your man, and the defenders playing our SF position in general have been absolutely atrocious at times in finding their man.

Danny Manning also HAS to get more out of Greg McClinton and Mitchell Wilbekin. The two starters combined for one point on 0-9 shooting from the field. When you look at the fact that those two guys are solely in to provide offense (because their defense is honestly not anywhere close to ACC-caliber), Wake Forest has no chance to win if they are playing that many minutes with such poor offensive production.

I'm not upset at all with the performance, as the Deacs just ran into a team that has legitimate Final Four aspirations. The Commodores have a big man in Jones, and have surrounded him with an absurd amount of shooters to stretch out the defense.

Wake Forest will play its final game in Maui in the Third Place game tomorrow night at 7:30, taking on the loser of the Kansas-UCLA game. A 2-1 record would be extremely promising moving forward, and I expect Danny Manning to get the full attention and effort of the team tomorrow night.

It was mentioned on the radio broadcast, as well as hinted in the television broadcast, that Cornelius Hudson and Rondale Watson would likely be available tomorrow. This is good news for getting the second victory, but there will no doubt be questions surrounding the circumstances that saw those two sit out in a game where their presence would have been greatly utilized, particularly Hudson.