Now that is how you take care of business. After a disappointing display in their last game against the Clemson Tigers, the Wake Forest Men’s Basketball team bounced back big time with a 99-77 blowout win over the Louisville Cardinals. In that last game, the Deacs never held the lead; in this one, they only trailed for a grand total of 26 seconds before using a 17-0 run to grab a lead that they would never relinquish.
They say basketball is a game of runs, and this game was a prime example. Thankfully, pretty much all of the runs were made by Wake Forest. The Deacs opened the game on fire, using the aforementioned 17-0 run to help them build a 38-18 lead midway through the first half. The Cardinals didn’t go away quietly, though, as forward Sydney Curry was basically unstoppable in the first half. The junior scored 15 points on 7-9 shooting and grabbed 6 rebounds off the bench in the first half to help cut the Wake Forest lead to just 8 points at the break. Curry finished with a career high 28 points on 72% shooting from the floor.
In the second half, Wake started doubling Curry every time he got the ball in the post, and it paid dividends. By the time the Wake Forest lead had reached 30 points and the game was completely out of hand, Curry had 3 turnovers and just 4 points in the half. That helped the Deacs go on multiple scoring runs, including an 11-3 run to open the half and a 31-11 run that expanded the Wake lead all the way up to 32 points. From that point, the Wake took their foot off of the gas, but they probably could have won this game by 40+ points if they wanted to. This was just one of those games where everything was clicking for the Deacs, as all five Wake Forest starters scored double figures and the group accounted for 83 of Wake’s 99 points. On the other side, none of Louisville’s starters scored more than 8 points, and the bench combined for 59 of the Cardinals’ 77 points.
I don’t know what Head Coach Steve Forbes did over the past couple of days, but the players clearly responded. Isaiah Mucius, who didn’t play in the Clemson game due to illness, came out of the gates on fire, hitting 3 3-pointers in the first 10 minutes of the game to help give the Deacs a 20-point lead. Dallas Walton, who scored just 2 points on 1-5 shooting against the Tigers, came back with one of the best games of his career. The big man tied his career high with 22 points on 8-9 shooting, hit 4-4 from beyond the arc, and added 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 block to his stellar performance. Junior Jake LaRavia also bounced back with a huge game, finishing with a team high 23 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and a net +/- of +36. This was exactly what the doctor ordered after the loss at Clemson to get Wake Forest back on track.
The Deacs are now 22-8 overall and 12-7 in the ACC with just one game against NC State remaining. A top 4 spot in the ACC is still possible if the Deacs take care of business one more time against the Wolfpack, and UNC loses both of their remaining games against Syracuse and Duke. The good news is that with UVA losing today, the Deacs can’t fall below 5th place, as they hold the tie breakers over both UVA and VT. Let that sink in for a second: in their second season under Steve Forbes, the worst Wake Forest can finish in the ACC is fifth. FIFTH. Hopefully, the Deacs can finish out the season strong with another blowout win before heading to the ACC Tournament. Go Deacs!