The Wake Forest Demon Deacons were unstoppable on the offensive end, and knocked off the UTEP Miners 103-81 in the opening round of the Gildan Charleston Classic. John Collins scored just 4 points in the first half, but had a dominant second half and finished with 24 on the afternoon. Who else stood out for the Deacs?
My goodness has this team been fun to watch for the first three games. The Deacs played modern basketball in the first half, as they spread the floor beautifully and drained 13 of 20 three pointers en route to 63 first half points. Bryant Crawford dropped 16 in the half, Dinos Mitoglou had 14, Keyshawn Woods had 10, and Austin Arians chipped in 8. It was simply an onslaught from the perimeter.
In the second half, the Deacs went #throwbackthursday and made a concentrated effort to attack the paint. In fact, the Deacs attempted just one three pointer in the second half. In a tribute to Space Jam, John Collins was a Monstar. The sophomore made 9 of 10 field goal attempts and just could not be stopped. He has an offensive rating of 124.0 so far this season despite very high usage rates. He has also been dominant on the glass. For the game, Wake Forest shot 59% from the field, including an effective field goal percentage of 70.3%. That is dominant offense.
I want to give a special shoutout to Bryant Crawford, who is playing beautiful basketball this season. He was outstanding as a freshman, but averaged 3.5 turnovers per game. He did have 4 in the season opener against Radford, but over the past 2 games he has 15 assists to just 1 turnover. That is elite point guard play.
Wake Forest’s defense, on the other hand, has to improve. They definitely played in an up-tempo game today, but still allowed UTEP to score 1.044 points per possession. Wake has the 42nd best offense in the country, according to Ken Pom’s offensive efficiency rating, but also has the 102nd best defense. That’s an improvement from last year in defense, but still not good enough moving forward.
Wake Forest will be in for an incredible challenge tomorrow afternoon when the Deacs play Villanova, who is the defending national champion. The Wildcats are currently 3rd in Ken Pom and are favored by 13 points (88% win probability). This contest will be a tremendous test for Wake’s defense, as Nova is so guard heavy. Can Wake Forest stay in front of Nova’s guards? Nova also has the 5th best adjusted defense in the country, so it should tell us a lot about how good Wake’s offense is. The action will begin at 1:30 p.m., and will be televised on ESPN 2.