The Wake Forest Demon Deacons (11-7, 2-4) had a week to prepare for the Miami Hurricanes (12-5, 2-3) and it showed. The Deacs played arguably their best half of the season in the first half, and overcame several Miami runs in the second half to win, 96-79. What were the key takeaways?
I was incredibly impressed by Wake Forest’s ball movement and patience in the first half. They had just 3 turnovers, and also had 10 assists on 16 made field goals. The guards also made a concentrated effort to feed John Collins the ball in the post, and it paid off. Collins went 4-5 from the field in the first half and had 13 points at the half. Doral Moore was incredibly active on both ends of the floor during the first half. He had a massive alley-oop, 4 points, 3 boards, and also altered a lot of shots when he anchored the defense. If he can consistently provide that energy, he will make John Collins even more effective when he’s in the game, as he’ll be able to go harder.
The Deacs came out incredibly strong in the second half. They ran a set play to get the ball down low, got John Collins a bucket, and then Keyshawn Woods drained a corner three following a post touch. Wake’s strong start got their lead up to 23, but Miami did not go away.
The Hurricanes installed a press that gave Wake Forest a lot of fits, as they led to turnovers and then easy buckets. Wake’s defense also left a lot to be desired in the second half, because Miami was shooting 68% from the field for the first 16 minutes of the second half. The Hurricanes also did a better job of grabbing offensive rebounds, though Wake did a nice job of limiting Miami below their season average.
Every time Miami got within true striking distance, however, Wake Forest was able to respond. The lead got down to 9 several times, but Wake responded with a big three by Mitchell Wilbekin, and two great layups (one on a goaltend) by Bryant Crawford.
The Canes cut it to just 6 points with 3:50 remaining, but then Wake closed the game on a 16-2 run by making free throws and feeding the ball inside to John Collins. Essentially all of Miami’s rotation big men fouled out, so Collins feasted.
John Collins put up crazy numbers in this one. The sophomore from the Miami area finished with 27 points (on just 11 field goal attempts), 7 rebounds, and 1 block. Bryant Crawford provided an offensive spark in the second half and finished with 14 points, 8 assists, and 5 rebounds. Keyshawn Woods and Mitchell Wilbekin rounded out the Deacs who scored in double-figures, as they had 20 and 10, respectively. It’s not often that a team scores 96 points with just 4 players scoring in double-figures, but that’s what happened tonight. Miami had the 11th best adjusted defensive efficiency headed into the game, and Wake put up 96 points.
This was a game that Wake Forest simply had to win, and I’m proud that they did not fold down the stretch. When it got done to six points in the final four minutes I’m sure we were all thinking, “Here we go again,” but Wake Forest built the lead back up by making free throws and also getting John Collins some looks.
Wake Forest will look to build on this win and climb in the ACC standings when they travel to Raleigh on Saturday to take on the North Carolina State Wolfpack. The action will tip off at 2 p.m.