Last season, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons went to Fayetteville, Arkansas and got trounced by a score of 83-53. In that contest, Wake turned the ball over 20 times, made just 1 of their 18 three point attempts, and allowed Arkansas to make 47% of their threes. It was a disaster. This year, however, the Deacs get them at home, and are a more talented team. Arkansas, on the other hand, had to replace a lot of the talent that allowed last year's contest to get so out of hand. Who has the advantage in tonight's matchup?
A key in tonight's contest is going to be turnovers. Wake Forest struggles to consistently protect the basketball, and turns it over on nearly 20% of their possessions. Arkansas, however, likes to press, and forces opponents to turn it over nearly 22% of the time. While freshman point guard Bryant Crawford has performed very well this year, he has consistently had problems with turnovers. His quickness could allow him to beat the press, and generate a lot of easy points, but he cannot make the mistake of jumping before he knows exactly what he's going to do with the ball. Wake Forest will once again be without Codi Miller-McIntyre, so Mitchell Wilbekin, Rondale Watson, and Cornelius Hudson will have to help Bryant effectively break the press.
Wake Forest has rebounded the ball well all season, and should have that advantage again tonight. Wake Forest is a very good offensive rebounding team, while Arkansas is bad at defensive rebounding. However, Arkansas is also a very strong offensive rebounding team, while Wake hasn't been as strong on the defensive end. Wake can be a very good defensive rebounding team if they just commit to it. When this team makes a visible effort, they have the length and athleticism to control the glass. I hope to see improved intensity on the defensive glass tonight.
Arkansas has two excellent three point shooters in Dusty Hannahs (#3) and Anthlon Bell (#5). Hannahs has made 52% of his attempts, while Bell has made 41% of his attempts. While those two are excellent shooters, they are really the only three point threats that Arkansas has. Those two have combined for 36 of the team's 39 three pointers this season. They shoot a very high percentage as a team, but they only have two threats on the entire team, and this impacts on the team's spacing. Bell averages 16 points per game, and well more than half of his field goal attempts come from beyond the arc.
Wake Forest has been very good this year at getting to the charity stripe, while Arkansas has routinely allowed opponents to get to the line, so that should be a reliable way for the Deacs to score points tonight.
The biggest challenge for Wake Forest, is going to be defending Moses Kingsley (#33). He's 6'10", 230 pounds, and averages 16.7 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, while shooting 60% from the field. He's also excellent at drawing fouls and getting to the foul line. It would be quite problematic for Wake Forest if Devin Thomas were to get in foul trouble. Devin Thomas, however, is also quite good at drawing fouls and getting to the foul line. If Devin can get Kingsley in early foul trouble, then that gives Wake a massive advantage. Arkansas does not have much size, and Kingsley being on the bench would give Wake a decided advantage on the glass.
The action starts at 7 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN3.