Wake Forest (12-15, 4-10) was down just two points at halftime, but #10 Notre Dame (23-4, 11-2) started the second half on a 27-10 run over the first eight minutes and never looked back before winning 88-75.
The first half was played at a rigorous pace. The Irish led Wake Forest 43-41 after a first half that featured 36 possessions per team and 15 lead changes. Devin Thomas was the story for the Demon Deacons. The junior had 15 points and 8 rebounds in the first half. Jerian Grant led the way for Notre Dame with 13 points, 4 assists and 3 steals.
Notre Dame leads the nation in offensive effective field goal percentage at 59.1%, but the Deacs held Notre Dame to an effective field goal percentage of just 45.6%. Wake Forest, who averages just 48.2%, had en eFG% of 51.6% in the first half. Wake Forest, who should have had an advantage on the glass, got out-rebounded 20-18 in the first half.
Notre Dame came out on fire in the second half and scored 8 points less than 2 minutes, which caused Wake Forest head coach Danny Manning to take a timeout. The bleeding didn't really stop, however, as Notre Dame went on a total of a 27-10 run over the first 8 minutes of the second half. Insert "if you take out the 27-10 run"Jeff Bzdelik joke here. They did this by making 4 of their first 6 three point attempts, and beating Wake Forest down the court in transition. Wake's turnover % was also 43% over that same time span.
The Deacs went on a run of their own and cut Notre Dame's lead to 79-71 at the 5:02 mark, which caused Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey to call a timeout. The Irish responded when Pat Connaughton made a three pointer out of the timeout. Wake Forest did not score until Devin Thomas made a jumper with 1:44 remaining in the contest. Notre Dame was exceptional on offense in the second half and had an offensive efficiency of 136.4, while turning it over on just 9.1% of their possessions.
Devin Thomas finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds for the Deacs. Darius Leonard and Codi Miller-McIntyre each had 10. Notre Dame was led by Jerian Grant, who finished with 24 points and 10 assists. In total, the Irish had five players who scored in double-figures.
Wake Forest won the rebounding battle 39-35, but still allowed the Irish to grab 12 offensive rebounds. Wake Forest also had 14 turnovers and 12 of them came on steals. Wake really needs to have stronger hands and better ball security. Too many careless turnovers trying to play too fast. This led to too many transition opportunities for Grant and company.
Wake shot a respectable 11-15 from the foul line (73%), but Notre Dame shot an astounding 27-28 (96%).
Wake Forest will seek revenge from Saturday's 61-60 heartbreaker to #2 Virginia next Wednesday when they host the Cavaliers at 7 p.m. Notre Dame will play at Boston College on Saturday at 4 p.m.