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Playbook: Wake Forest vs Syracuse

A tale of 2 halves

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Deacs fell to 2-11 in conference play after a road loss to the Syracuse Orange over the weekend, losing by a score of 70-78. Wake once again showed great fight after falling behind early, but were ultimately unable to overcome a terrible first half to pick up the win. It was a tale of 2 halves for the Deacs, who shot 1-10 from beyond the arc (0-9 before Crawford’s buzzer beater) and scored just 21 points in the first 20 minutes of game time. They would go on to finish the game shooting a red hot 9-13 from beyond the arc and scoring 49 points in the second half.

One of the reasons the Deacs shot so poorly in the first half was the shot selection. We had far too many possessions of passing back and forth around the perimeter against the Syracuse 2-3 zone without getting any penetration. Sometimes only 2 players would touch the ball before one launched a three.

This is basically playing right into the hands Syracuse’s defense. Admittedly, the Orange were doing a really good job of taking away our guy in the middle of the zone, likely because it was so effective in our first meeting. That being said, the Deacs didn’t do a good job of working the ball inside or swinging the ball quickly and forcing the defense to shift.

The second half was a complete 180 by comparison. The Deacs did a much better job getting the ball to the man at the free throw line and good things happened.

Granted, it is easier to accomplish that when you have a guy like Mitchell Wilbekin catch fire from beyond the arc and force the defense out, but it was also likely an emphasis of the halftime adjustments. Not only did Wake get the ball inside the zone, but they moved it quickly once it got there, not giving the zone time to re-position.

This looks more like the offense the Deacs used against Syracuse the first time around to beat the zone and win the game. It’s pretty easy to see that these shots are far better than those we got in the first half.

A loss is still a loss, but the Deacs definitely did some good things offensively in the second half of this game. Whatever your thoughts of the team are, give them credit for once again showing fight and giving themselves a chance to win down the stretch.