While it was likely not the scoreline that was expected by many Wake Forest fans (although we did warn about this game earlier in the week) the Deacs got it’s first victory of the year (which doesn’t count), holding off a furious rally from Queens University of Charlotte to win 76-74 on Friday night.
Queens is the No. 2 ranked Division II team in the preseason polls, and managed to fight back from a 52-36 second half deficit to pull within a single possession multiple times in the final minute.
I did think that this game would be closer than most would want to see, but I thought that it would be because Queens was better than we thought, not because Wake Forest looked underwhelming.
Unfortunately it was mostly the latter that led to a close affair tonight.
The first thing I would always recommend in an exhibition game is to pretty much ignore any rash generalizations about the team based solely upon the game. The game tonight effectively showed Wake fans what we already knew—-replacing John Collins on the offensive end is going to be a tough task, and it will be a very guard-reliant team as well.
Keyshawn Woods led the Deacs with 21 points and 6 rebounds in 34 minutes. Bryant Crawford pitched in 14 points and 8 boards, while Terrance Thompson had 9 points and 11 rebounds in his debut for Wake Forest.
For some reason Olivier Sarr, Doral Moore, and Samuel Japhet-Mathias combined for just 19 minutes (all from Moore and Sarr as SJM did not play), totaling 8 points and 8 rebounds.
Freshman Chaundee Brown shot 3-10 from the field in his first Wake Forest game to finish with 9 points and 2 rebounds.
The Royals were led by Todd Withers double-double (16 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 blocks) while pre-season Division II All-American was limited to 10 points.
Overall the Deacs shot a woeful 34% from the field (21-61) and 29% from beyond the arc (5-17). A bright spot was the free throw shooting, as the Deacs went 29-39 as a team (74%)
On the flip side, Queens shot 40% from the field, 36% from behind the three-point line, and 68% from the free throw line.
Wake Forest only out-rebounded the Royals 47-40, and turnovers were a big problem all night as well, as the Deacs finished with 20.
A link to the final box score can be found here.
I did not get the chance to watch the game since there was no video feed, but Rob and Ed will have a detailed recap and Facebook Live to completely cover the game.
All in all I would just chalk this up as an exhibition game (and hey, Wake won!), but the game does little to quell the concerns regarding who is going to take over the scoring load, who will emerge as a reliable big man, and how Wake will efficiently get the ball in the basket.
Based on the minutes and the rotations it is clear that the coaching staff viewed and treated this as an exhibition game, but I would still have expected a better shooting night regardless of the lineups thrown out there.
The Deacs will need to play much better if it wants to move to 1-0 in regular season games when it takes on Georgia Southern (105th in KenPom) next Friday night.