The Wake Forest Demon Deacons (7-2) had a sluggish first half, but went on a 13-0 run in the second half before ultimately defeating the UNC Greensboro Spartans (4-6) by a final score of 81-71. The Deacs were led offensively by Dinos Mitoglou, who scored 22 points on just 8 field goal attempts.
Wake Forest got off to an inspired start and led 9-2, but UNC Greensboro outscored the Demon Deacons 34-29 over the remainder of the first half and trailed only 38-36 at halftime. UNC Greensboro even fought back to take the lead in the first half, but then Wake Forest reasserted themselves to take a 9-point lead with just over 4 minutes to go. Unfortunately, Wake Forest failed to close and only had that 2 point lead at halftime.
The game marked the return of Codi Miller-McIntyre, and he was sloppy in this game. He was forcing things, and generally looked pretty rusty, but that was to be expected. Dinos Mitoglou led Wake with 11 first-half points, but his pick-and-roll defense was costly on the defensive end. Devin Thomas was effective when you consider that he scored 8 points on just 3 field goal attempts, but he went 4-10 from the foul line, and those were essentially extra turnovers.
Wake Forest found themselves tied at 45 in the second half, but then went on a 13-0 run that was fueled mostly by Wake Forest doing an excellent job of getting to the charity stripe. Overall, Wake did a great job of getting to the line, but did not do a nice job of converting. This mostly mostly due to Devin Thomas going just 8-17 from the charity stripe. Devin, however, still finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds, it just could have been even better.
UNC Greensboro entered the game making 9 three pointers per game, and they came up a bit short of that budget. They only made 7, but Kayel Locke made 4 of his 7 attempts, and finished with 25 points. Wake Forest won the rebounding battle by 3, but that differential should have been much better.
Wake looked sloppy at times offensively, and that was mostly when Codi Miller-McIntyre was in the game. He had one of the worst +/-'s on the team. Trent VanHorn had the lowest on the team, and I found it interesting that Manning chose to play him over Rondale Watson. CMM is going to be okay, but it's clearly going to take a little bit of time before he feels entirely comfortable on the court.
The Deacs are going to have to do a better job of defending ball screens. We did a nice job of going over top of off-ball screens, but some of our hedges got too aggressive and then we were out of position for the remainder of the possession. I did think, however, that Wake did a nice job of forcing turnovers. UNCG had been good at protecting the ball this year, so that was a positive sign.
Danny Manning will be happy that his team got the victory, but he will be looking for a better performance from his team on Friday night. The next few days will be critical to develop more cohesiveness as the full team is finally together.
UNC Greensboro will play at Elon on Saturday. Wake Forest will return to action on Friday night when they host Coastal Carolina.