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John Collins Lifts Wake Forest Past Georgia Tech, 81-69

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John Collins scores 20+ points for the sixth consecutive game.

NCAA Basketball: Georgia Tech at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

On a day where the Wake Forest Demon Deacons wore throwback jerseys, the team put on a vintage Wake Forest performance. John Collins scored 20 points and hauled in 11 rebounds en route to a 81 to 69 victory over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. What were some key takeaways?

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The key matchup headed into this game was when Wake Forest had the ball. Entering the game, Wake Forest had the 12th best adjusted offensive efficiency in the country, while Georgia Tech had the 10th best adjusted defense in the country. Wake finished the game with 81 points, with an unadjusted offensive efficiency of 116.4 points per 100 possessions, which is damn impressive.

The key individual matchup that everyone wanted to see headed into this contest was Wake Forest’s John Collins vs. Georgia Tech’s Ben Lammers. Lammers is averaging 15 points and 9.6 rebounds per game, but John Collins shut him down. Lammers did suffer from foul trouble in this contest, but that is also a testament to Collins working down low. Collins finished with 20 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 blocks, while Lammers had just 7 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocks.

The Demon Deacons led 37-31 at halftime, but got off to a raucous start to the second half. Georgia Tech tried to switch things up with a 1-2-2 half-court trap, but Wake recognized it and Dinos Mitoglou knocked down a corner three. Keyshawn Woods followed it up on the next possession with a three from the right elbow that caused Georgia Tech head coach, Josh Pastner, to take a timeout.

The Yellow Jackets are a resilient bunch and battled back. They consistently play tough defense and that led to a number of run outs, specifically by Josh Okogie, who finished with a game-high 23 points. Quinton Stephens also made the Deacs pay a number of times, as he made 4 three-pointers and finished with 14 points.

Wake Forest, however, went on a run with around 12 minutes remaining that mostly put the game out of reach. Wake was up just 7, but then Collins got things started with a layup. Wake followed that up with a three by Brandon Childress, a layup by Austin Arians, and a 3 by Mitchell Wilbekin to extend the lead to 16 points with 10 minutes remaining.

Georgia Tech, however, continued to show resiliency and cut their deficit back to just 7 points with 5:48 remaining. Wake was struggling to score during this stretch due to settling for threes and being carless with the basketball. Things shifted after a great hustle play by Mitchell Wilbekin with a bit under 4:30 remaining. Keyshawn Woods had just missed a 3 pointer that had a long rebound, and Wilbekin ran to the ball and was pushed/fouled by Quinton Stephens in the process. Instead of Georgia Tech having a run out, Wilbekin drained two free throws and had a four point swing.

It was mostly academic from that point forward. Keyshawn Woods made two free throws, Collins threw down a massive alley-oop from Wilbekin, and Wilbekin also drained a three to essentially seal it.

I was obviously very impressed with John Collins today, but was also extremely impressed with Mitchell Wilbekin, who scored 16 points off the bench. This was arguably his best game of the season. I also liked what I saw from Brandon Childress, who did a nice job splitting traps in Georgia Tech’s zone and creating offense.

The Deacs dominated the glass, 38-28, and also did a very good job of defending Georgia Tech’s cuts. They left the Jackets open on the outside, who made 8/20, and that was potentially by design. Still, they did a nice job of “jumping” to the ball on basket cuts and also getting over the top of screens on dribble hand offs.

This was a big win for the Deacs, as it was a battle between two bubble teams. The win moves Wake to 14-9 overall, including 5-6 in conference play. This was a week where Wake had to hold serve and win twice, and that’s exactly what they did. Wake travels to Indiana on Tuesday to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Wake will not be favored in that one, but it’s a great opportunity to try to steal a win and boost the resume.