The Wake Forest Demon Deacons and North Carolina State Wolfpack took fans on a roller coaster ride in the second half, but ultimately the Deacs made more plays than the Pack and won by a final score of 77-74. Wake Forest moved to 1-2 in ACC play with the win, while the Pack dropped to 0-3 in conference play. Devin Thomas led the Deacs with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Cat Barber led State with 26 points and 7 assists.
The two teams found themselves in a sloppy and uninspiring game in the first half that concluded with Wake Forest winning 27-25. The Deacs stormed out of the locker room with a 13-0 run to go up 40-25. During that time Dinos Mitoglou drained two threes, while Mitchell Wilbekin hit one as well. As was the case most of the season, however, the Deacs could not sustain the lead. After some back-and-forth, State responded with a 16-0 run of their own to take a 46-44 lead. Maverick Rowan, Cat Barber, and Caleb Barber were draining threes during that run.
Wake Forest had lost the energy and ball movement that allowed the Deacs to go on that 13-0 run. They responded, however, and the effort improved. The three ball continued to fall, and the Deacs also did an excellent job getting the ball inside to Devin Thomas. Abdul-Malik Abu and BeeJay Anya combined for 9 fouls, and were limited as a result. That was clearly part of Danny Manning's plan, and it was well-executed.
Wake got up by as many as 11 points with 5 minutes to go after Devin Thomas made a layup, but then the Deacs were up by only 5 points with 3 minutes remaining. In the end, Wake made enough winning plays. Bryant Crawford made a three, then ran a beautiful pick-and-roll with Devin Thomas that resulted in a dunk and put the Deacs up by 10 with 1:52 to go. Wake's defense left a fair amount to be desired in the closing minutes, but it was mostly result of trying to avoid fouling. Bryant Crawford went 4-4 from the line, and helped the Deacs win 77-74. Cat Barber hit an uncontested layup with 2 seconds remaining that created some serious drama in Vegas.
This game was a must-win for the Deacs, and they kept themselves alive in their hunt to make the NCAA Tournament. They only had 10 turnovers, and got to the foul line 28 times. That's their success to winning games in the ACC. I was very impressed by Mitoglou's performance tonight. He did an excellent job knocking down shots, and also had 9 rebounds. The Wake starters led this one, and finished with 69 of Wake's 77 points.
The Deacs will travel to Blacksburg on Wednesday night to take on the Virginia Tech Hokies. It's another very winnable game for the Deacs.