For the first time since the 2012-2013 season, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons have beaten the Virginia Cavaliers. The win was also Wake’s first in Charlottesville since 2010. That’s a pretty shocking stat, but it just goes to show where the basketball program was in the past decade and how Steve Forbes has things headed in the right direction in just his second season. In fact, we’re halfway through the month of January, and if the season ended today, Wake’s 14 wins would be their second highest win total since 2009-10. With the win, Wake moves to 14-4 overall and 4-3 in the ACC.
I won’t lie, this game was incredibly frustrating to watch. For 30 minutes, the Deacs struggled to get anything going at all and found themselves down by as many 9 points to a Virginia team that isn’t exactly known for their ability to score the basketball. After getting up early 11-6, the Deacs failed to score for about 4 minutes, allowing Virginia to build a 13-22 lead. Despite shooting a measly 37% from the floor in the first half, the Deacs found a way to head into the break only trailing by 2 points.
The final 10 minutes of this game is where things really changed. With 10:23 remaining, Jayden Gardner hit a jumper to give Virginia a 7-point lead—at that point, things looked pretty grim for the Deacs. Thankfully, Wake clamped down defensively, and the Cavs didn’t score another point until 3:35 remaining in the game. In the final quarter of this game, Wake outscored the Cavs 23-8, grabbing a lead on an Isaiah Mucius 3-pointer that they held onto for the remainder of the game at around the 6-minute mark. Alondes Williams, who had just 2 points in the first half, really carried the Deacs down the stretch, finishing the second with 12 points, 4 assists, and 4 offensive rebounds.
This game definitely embodied Forbes’ mantra of “gritty, grimy, tough, and together.” Winning on the road in the ACC is hard enough, but to come away with a comeback win in a place Wake hasn’t won in over 10 years really shows just how much fight and heart this team has. Two ACC road wins in the same season shouldn’t be a big deal, but after the last 10+ years, it’s borderline miraculous.
The Deacs were led once again by the duo of Jake LaRavia and Alondes Williams, who finished with 14 and 15 points respectively. Daivien Williamson also finished in double figures, scoring 9 of his 12 points in the first half. He was a big reason that Wake only found themselves down by 2 at the half. The impact player to me in this one was senior Isaiah Mucius. Mucius finished with 12 points and 8 rebounds and hit two big free throws down the stretch to ice this one.
At the end of the day, an ugly win is still a win. The Deacs move to 4-3 in the ACC and are above .500 in the conference after 7 games for the first time since 2014. I’m not sure if that shows how good Steve Forbes is or how bad the past decade was for Wake Forest, but either way, I’m happy that it appears Wake Forest basketball is going to a contender in the ACC again. Up next is another crazy streak game as Wake Forest heads to Atlanta, a city the Deacs have not won in since 2004. I think Forbes may be the guy to finally break that streak too. Go Deacs!