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Wake Forest Dominated by Rutgers 81-57

That was ugly.

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Rutgers Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

That was pretty ugly. The Deacs were completely dominated for 40 minutes and really never even gave themselves a chance in this game. Wake had no answer for the aggressive Rutgers’ defense, which forced them to turn the ball over a whopping 22 times. Honestly, Wake is lucky the final score wasn’t worse than it was.

Right from the jump, the Deacs seemed unprepared for the aggressive, full court pressure defense from the Scarlet Knights. In the first 5 minutes of the game, Wake had already turned the ball over 6 times and trailed 16-8. Rutgers came out with a ton of energy and was all over Wake, forcing everything away from the basket and trapping at every opportunity. Outside of Appleby, the Deacs looked really uncomfortable.

Wake settled in a little bit, but every time they made a little run to catch up, they would have a stretch where they would turn the ball over 2-3 times in a row and the lead would balloon back out. Wake was able to pull within 4 at one point, but Rutgers immediately went on a 12-0 run fueled by another batch of Wake turnovers to take a 36-20 lead.

Despite 12 first half turnovers and Rutgers shooting 59% from the floor in the half, Wake was somehow able to stick around and trailed just 43-33 at the break. To only be down 10 points after giving up 24 points in the paint, 14 fast break points, 16 points off turnovers, and 5 offensive rebounds was something of a miracle, to be honest. If not for Wake shooting 6-9 from beyond the arc in the first period, I feel pretty confident that the Deacs would have found themselves down by 20+ points.

Unfortunately, the second half started pretty much the same way as the first, with Rutgers starting the half 12-2 run to take a 20-point lead. The Scarlet Knights, who entered today’s game 307th in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage, became the latest team to not be able to miss against Wake Forest—four minutes into the second half, Rutgers was shooting 45% from beyond the arc. Even with the hot shooting from Rutgers and some pretty questionable officiating—which caused Steve Forbes to get a tech after a foul was called on Damari Monsanto’s face for getting hit by a forearm—the Deacs were still within 15 points.

Speaking of Monsanto, the redshirt junior had one of his best games after not playing on Wednesday for not meeting team standards in practice. Monsanto was a big reason why the Deacs were able to keep this one from getting too far out of hand, finishing with 22 of Wake Forest’s 57 points and making 6 of his 12 3-point attempts. He was the lone bright spot in this game for Wake Forest, and hopefully he will be able carry that forward into conference play for the rest of the season.

Ultimately, you aren’t going to find many teams that can win a game after turning the ball over 22 times over the course of a game. You probably won’t find any teams winning with that number of turnovers that also shoot 40% from the floor and get outscored 44-16 in the paint. Simply put, Wake was completely dominated in this game, and they are probably lucky to not have lost by 30+ points.

Things don’t get any easier for Wake Forest, as they return home to take on a ranked Duke team next week, followed by tough games against Virginia Tech and North Carolina. The Deacs might be entering a bit of a danger zone here if they don’t get it together—by the time the Louisville game rolls around on January 7th, the Deacs could find themselves 8-7 overall and 0-4 in the ACC in the midst of a span of losing 6 of their last 7 games. That would obviously be the worst-case scenario, but after the past couple of weeks, I’m not feeling very optimistic.

We’re on to Duke.

Go Deacs!