The Wake Forest Demon Deacons saw their 14-point lead evaporate, but they had enough answers for the Arkansas Razorbacks, and ultimately won 88-85. With the win, the Deacs improved to 6-2 on the season, while Arkansas fell to 3-4. It was a far cry from last year's 83-53 Arkansas victory in Fayetteville.
The Wake Forest Demon Deacons found themselves leading 48-39 at halftime. Wake had the lead because they caught fire from deep, won the rebounding battle, and did a nice job of limiting turnovers against the press. Mitchell Wilbekin got the Deacs off to a hot start when he hit two early three pointers. Cornelius Hudson provided a huge spark for Wake Forest midway through the first half. Wake Forest was leading just 23-21, but then he scored 9 points in just 1 minute to give Wake Forest a 32-23 lead.
Doral Moore had arguably his best half as a Demon Deacon. He had two monster dunks and a nice hook shot. Devin Thomas was somewhat quiet on the offensive end, but that was mostly due to the defense denying him touches. Towards the end of the first half he got loose and finished with 8 first-half points. That trend continued in the second.
The second half was a wild ride. Wake Forest got off to a nice start and extended their lead to 14 on two separate occasions. The latest of which was after a Dinos Mitoglou dunk to make it 57-43 with 17:25 remaining. To Arkansas' credit, they did not give up. They went on a 23-8 run over the next 9 minutes, and took a 66-65 lead after a three-point play by Dusty Hannahs. Wake Forest, as they have done multiple times this year, responded to the adversity.
Dinos Mitoglou came down on the very next possession, and made a 3 for the Deacs to give them a 68-66 lead. Then, senior Devin Thomas was the story for the Demon Deacons. He scored Wake Forest's next 8 points, and was able to counter each of Arkansas' buckets.
Wake Forest found themselves up 80-76 after John Collins knocked down a pair of free throws. Arkansas, then quickly scored 5 points in just 25 seconds to give Arkansas an 81-80 lead with 3:30 remaining. Wake Forest then pushed to the end with what got them the lead - the three ball. Cornelius Hudson connected on an off-glass three pointer to give Wake a 83-81 lead.
Arkansas tied it back up at 83 after they connected on a put back, but then Dinos Mitoglou responded with a massive three to put the Deacs up 86-83. They then played enough defense and made enough free throws to escape with an 88-85 victory over the Razorbacks.
Devin Thomas was the key to Wake Forest tonight. He had yet another double-double and finished with 20 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Cornelius Hudson provided an incredible spark off of the bench and finished with 17 points. Mitchell Wilbekin had 13, while Dinos Mitoglou and John Collins each had 10. Bryant Crawford went 0-8 from the field and finished with just 4 points. He did have 9 assists, but he also had 7 turnovers. It was encouraging to see Wake Forest come away with a victory despite Crawford's poor performance.
Wake won the rebounding battle tonight, but had 9 second half turnovers. Those turnovers were a key reason why Arkansas was able to get back in the contest.
Wake has now won yet another close contest. While that certainly isn't sustainable, it's incredibly encouraging to see them getting great results without Codi Miller-McIntyre. Wake has been without their best player all season, and is still 6-2. With Codi, it's somewhat reasonable to conclude that these close games wouldn't have been as close. This was a huge win for Wake Forest, and they still have a very legitimate shot at postseason play.
Arkansas was led by Moses Kingsley, who finished with 15 points and 7 rebounds. Dusty Hannahs is a great shooter and finished with 15 points off of the bench. Arkansas will host Evansville on Tuesday.
Wake Forest has an extended break, and will not play until December 15th when they host UNC Greensboro.