The Wake Forest Demon Deacons defeated the Fairfield Stags 71-59 in the season opener to move to 1-0 on the year.
The first half of this game was honestly pretty ugly. The Deacs looked discombobulated on offense and couldn’t stop fouling on the defensive end. Andrew Carr scored the first 10 points for Wake Forest, and it looked like he might be the only player to score for the Deacs. Finally, with under 10 minutes remaining in the half, Daivien Williamson hit a 3-pointer to give Wake a second player in the scoring column. The Deacs were down by as many as 6 points in the first before closing out the half on a 17-4 run to take a 32-25 lead at the intermission. Despite heating up a bit at the end of the first, the Deacs shot just 38% from the floor and 30% from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes. On the defensive side, Wake was solid, holding the Stags to 25 points on 30% shooting from the floor. With 13 total fouls in the first half, Wake allowed Fairfield to get into the bonus early, but luckily, they shot just 6-11 from the stripe in the first half.
The Wake Forest run continued into the second half, with the Deacs outscoring the Stags 8-2 in the first 4 minutes of the second. Steve Forbes talks a lot about winning the “middle eight”—AKA the last 4 minutes of the first half and first 4 minutes of the second half. In this one, Wake dominated the middle eight, outscoring Fairfield 15-4.
The hot start to the half came to an end after under 16 timeout, as the Deacs regressed back to poor possessions of one-on-one play and over dribbling, which resulted in bad shots and turnovers. By the 10-minute mark in the second half, the Stags had cut the lead to 5 points and suddenly caught fire from the field. After a couple of 3-pointers from TJ Long and a 3-pointer and midrange jumper from Caleb Fields, the Deacs led by just 1 point, 49-50.
Cam Hildreth and Tyree Appleby then took over, combining for the next 12 Wake Forest points to push the lead back up to 9 points. Hildreth made a nice extra pass to Daivien Williamson in the corner for a 3-pointer to put the game away with just over a minute to go. Wake Forest went on to win the game 71-59.
This was pretty much what one might expect from a first game of the season. The Deacs shot 39% from the floor for the game and 27% from beyond the arc. They finished with just 10 assists and 18 points in the paint—they are probably going to need to get those numbers up to be competitive in the ACC this season. Wake was led by the trio of Andrew Carr, Daivien Williamson, and Cam Hildreth, who all finished with 14 points. Bobi Klintman had a very good debut as a Deac, finishing with 11 points in his first game.
Some initial thoughts from the first game:
- Andrew Carr is an extremely versatile scorer, and he is going to be very good for Wake Forest this season. He is definitely more athletic than I was expecting.
- The freshmen Bobi Klintman and Zach Keller both looked really good for it to be their first game at the collegiate level. Both can shoot the ball well from the outside and played very good defense (Keller finished with 3 steals). I kind of expect one or both of them to be starting by the end of the season. Wake Forest is now Stretch 4 U.
- Interior defense could be a weakness for the Deacs this season, Supreme Cook had his way with a multitude of Wake Forest defenders, finishing 5-8 for 13 points.
- Daivien Williamson had a poor game shooting the ball, finishing just 2-9 from the field. I don’t think that will continue, so the Deacs should get more scoring from him in the future.
- Matthew Marsh and Damari Monsanto played just 3 and 4 minutes respectively, not really sure what is going there, but it’s definitely something to keep an eye on.
The Deacs are 1-0 and take on the Georgia Bulldogs this Friday.