Wake Forest’s struggles in road games in ACC play continued, as the Deacs fell 88-72 to Florida State in Tallahassee. Wake Forest led at halftime, yet let things get out of hand in the second half. For Wake, it was unfortunately Groundhog’s Day all over again.
The first half was a very interesting one for Wake Forest. John Collins played just several minutes in the first half due to foul trouble, but was extremely limited in the minutes that he did play. Still, strong performances for Keyshawn Woods and Bryant Crawford enabled the Deacs to take a 40-39 lead into halftime. Wake Forest was up 37-31 with 3:22 remaining, but then let FSU get back into the contest by sitting John Collins, Bryant Crawford, and Keyshawn Woods at the same time. It was an inexplicable decision considering that Crawford and Woods each average just 3.5 fouls per 40 minutes. That lineup was young, lacked shot creation, and also lacked perimeter shooting.
The second half got off to an incredibly shaky start, as both teams were turnover prone, but Wake was able to stay in it despite looking like they were going to lose control on multiple occasions.
Mitchell Wilbekin drained back-to-back threes midway through the second half to make it 66-61 with 9 minutes left. It got unbelievably ugly after the Florida native made his second triple. FSU went on a 17-0 run over the next 4 minutes to put the game out of reach. For some reason John Collins was not put back in the game while things were unraveling. Matters were made worse because Doral Moore left the game after falling on his tailbone. His size gave Wake a nice anchor in the middle of the defense, which is essential against a team as big as FSU. Freshman Sam Japhet-Mathias played extended minutes in a reserve role, but he finished with 0 points, 2 rebounds, 1 turnover, and 5 fouls.
Florida State played with excellent energy in the second half, but Wake didn’t do themselves any favors, and made things difficult on themselves. Several of Collins’ fouls came far away from the basket, or came at times where he needed to let FSU by. Bryant Crawford committed 7 turnovers, which was very similar to his poor showing against Northwestern. They also had 16 turnovers and didn’t do a good enough job of grabbing offensive rebounds. This was a game they could have won, but played poor situational basketball and allowed runs to get out of control. I thought that Wake’s supporting cast was good, but Wake just isn’t going to win when Collins and Dinos Mitoglou combine for 7 points.
Wake Forest will host Clemson on Saturday at noon in a game that is critical if Wake Forest wants a chance at earning a NCAA Tournament berth.