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Three Up, Three Down: Louisville

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Sadly, my prediction was almost spot on again. Wake Forest kept it close and at times looked like they might win the game, but in the end Wake couldn't cash in on certain prime opportunities and Louisville ultimately pulled away to win on their home floor. Still, there were plenty of positives. Let's talk both.

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

The Ups

Wake Forest's Transition Offense And Passing In General. Louisville is well known as a team that puts pressure on defenses, getting offenses out of sorts, and forcing turnovers.  Wake Forest, when they did get good defensive rebounds (too few of those, but I'll get to that), was very frequently able to get out in transition and make easy baskets, largely on the back of point guards Codi Miller-McIntyre and Bryant Crawford being surehanded, absolutely booking it down the floor, and often making wonderful passes.  Wake Forest had 18 assists on 24 baskets, a wonderful ratio, and Bryant Crawford had a team-high 7 assists (to only a single turnover).  Wake Forest as a team also had only 9 turnovers, which considering the competition and Wake's propensity to turn over the ball through much of the season so far, was just a fantastic outing overall.

Devin Thomas. The big man had a double double, tallying 14 points (6-11 shooting, 2-4 from the line) and 10 rebounds, alongside 2 assists and 2 blocks.  It was just a great performance overall by Devin, especially in the second half, and it was good to see Devin get a double digit number of shots again.  As much as I was talking up Bryant Crawford, and I stand by everything I said, Devin is reliable, does work, and absolutely was a key part of Wake Forest's good effort, losing though it was.

Refusing To Fold. Wake Forest went down by 9 points at one juncture, and it would have been incredibly easy for the Demon Deacons to fold and get blown out of the gym, especially on the road in conference against a ranked team.  But no, Wake tied the game with 2:32 to go off of a clutch Bryant Crawford three, and whatever negatives you may find (which I'll discuss soon), that was one heck of a performance by Wake, and it was an overall team effort as well.

The Downs

Free Throws. Wake went 3-12 from the line.  That is absolutely atrocious.  A team should not go 25% from the line at any point ever, and Wake is also generally one of the better teams in the country at getting to the line.  We should absolutely have been able to get to the line more than we did, especially given the style of defense Louisville plays with pressuring the ball so much and the new rules that further give offensive players a lot of room to work.  There's plenty of blame to go around as far as who missed what, and I'm not going to beat this dead horse any further at this point.

Not Taking Advantage Of Late Chances. Three possessions where Wake Forest was down by a single point, and one where it was tied, and the Demon Deacons were never able to take the lead.  The team didn't fold, and they continue to show an ability to buckle down when things threaten to get out of hand, but they also couldn't manage to finish the job, and that needs to change.  Some of it was questionable shot selection, some of it was turnovers, and some of it was just bad luck, but either way, it was unfortunate to see, and is a continuing pattern for this squad.

Chinanu Onuaku Got Revenge. The Louisville big man absolutely feasted with 12 points and 15 rebounds, especially early.  In a similar vein, Louisville had 14 second chance points off of 10 offensive rebounds, which is another thing that just cannot happen if Wake Forest is going to succeed more during the ACC season.  Devin got going eventually, but early on it looked like Onuaku was going to dominate even more than he actually did, which says a whole lot.

The Bottom Line

A lot of discussion has already gone on about this game, and I've expressed most of my feelings already, but to recap in brief, it was disappointing, but it was a fantastic effort and this team continues to progress at a faster rate than I ever would have anticipated.  Let's see if we can finish the job on an upset against Duke on Wednesday, shall we?  Proud of the effort once again, but no moral victories, gentlemen.  Seeing what the squad is capable of is both encouraging and infuriating, because you have to take these opportunities when you have them, especially road conference games.

On to the next. Go Deacs.

--SF