The Deacs are coming off an impressive 17 point victory over Miami on Wednesday, and hopefully they can ride the momentum from that game into Raleigh on Saturday and pick up Danny Manning’s first ACC road victory. The Wolfpack are 2-4 in the ACC and 13-6 overall, but they are 11-1 at home, losing only to Georgia Tech thus far. Most of you probably know this, but Wake Forest has struggled in Raleigh in the past several years; the Deacs haven’t won a game on the road against State since Chris Paul hit a buzzer beater in 2005. Needless to say, a win on Saturday would be huge for the team and the fans alike. Here are the Wolfpack players to watch:
Dennis Smith Jr. | Freshman Guard | #4
If you have watched any college basketball this season, you’ve probably heard a lot about Dennis Smith, and for good reason. The preseason All-ACC 1st Team selection is one of the best guards in the country and has the potential to be an incredible NBA star (Draft Express and Bleacher Report mock drafts have him as the 3rd overall pick). He is averaging 19.1 points, 6.2 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.2 steals per game. With those numbers, he leads the ACC in both assists and steals, and is 5th in scoring. He is one of a handful of players this season to get a triple double, which he achieved against Virginia Tech with 27 points, 11 assists, and 11 rebounds. With his ball handling skills and explosive athleticism, he is a very difficult player to guard on the drive. He is shooting 50% from inside the arc and gets to the free throw line almost 7 times per game.
Smith is shooting 37% from beyond the arc and can make shots spotted up or creating for himself off the dribble. Part of what makes him so difficult to guard is that he has incredible range, so defenders have to choose whether to sag off and let him shoot or play him tight and risk allowing him to drive to the basket.
As previously mentioned, he currently leads the ACC in steals with 2.2 per game. He is very good at anticipating where the ball is going and uses his quickness and athleticism to get in the passing lane and creating turnovers. The Deacs will want to make sure they are not being careless with the ball around Smith, because he can turn a sloppy pass into a highlight dunk in the blink of an eye.
Maverick Rowan | Sophomore Guard | #24
Rowan is averaging 11.8 points per game and is one of the better 3-point shooters in the conference at 42%. He is very good at moving without the basketball and even better at knocking down shots curling off of screens. He has been on a bit of a hot streak lately; in his last 2 games, he is averaging 19 points and shooting 56% from beyond the arc (6-9 in his last game vs Pitt). In his last game against Wake Forest, he torched the Deacs with 24 points, shooting 6-13 from beyond the arc in the ACC tournament. Wake Forest already has their hands full trying to keep Dennis Smith Jr. from scoring, so if Rowan continues his hot shooting streak, Wake Forest could have a lot of trouble keeping the Pack from scoring.