The Wake Forest Men’s Basketball Team went out and did exactly what they were supposed to do in this one: easily beat a bad ACC team at home. The Deacs led this game for all but the 16 seconds that the game was tied 0-0 and had no problem getting the win over the Pitt Panthers by a score of 91-75. With the win, Wake moves to 18-5 overall and 8-4 in the conference, which puts them at 5th place in the ACC currently.
Honestly, this one was over in the first minute and a half of the game. Wake Forest came out of the gates hot, hitting their first three 3-point attempts on their first three possessions of the game, and just like that it was 9-0 with 18:38 left in the game. That lead got to double digits a minute later on a Dallas Walton 3-pointer and it stayed double digits for most of the remainder of the game—the closest Pitt ever got it in the remaining 37 minutes was 7 points for about a minute in the first half. A wire-to-wire double digit win is exactly what the Deacs needed to do against the worst team in the ACC (by NET ranking) at home.
Wake Forest is at their best when they have a very balanced scoring attack, and they got just that against the Panthers with all five starters scoring double digits. Jake LaRavia led the way with 18 points on 60% shooting. Senior Dallas Walton had his best game offensively as a Demon Deacon, scoring 16 points on a perfect 6-6 from the field and 3-3 from beyond the arc. Walton had been struggling to get his shot to fall from the outside this season, so I know it felt good for him to finally see a few go down in a row. The starters were rounded out by 15 points from Alondes Williams, 12 points from Daivien Williamson, and 14 points from Isaiah Mucius. Overall, this was a great team effort offensively as the Deacs shot 55% from the floor for the game and finished with 20 assists on 28 made baskets. You love to see it.
With the lead at around 20 for most of the second half, the Deacs did seem to lose a bit of focus and allowed the Panthers to score 51 second half points on 64% shooting. The game was pretty much in hand, and for a while down the stretch, it seemed as though the Deacs were more focused on getting Alondes Williams a triple double than they were closing out the game. I can’t really blame them because I was also more interested in the triple double than the final score by about the 10-minute mark in the second half. It happens. Williams unfortunately finished 1 assist shy of his second triple double on the season, finishing with 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 9 assists. While not finishing the game strong is obviously not a good habit to form, the Panthers never got it closer than 13 points in the second half and only got it that close with under 2 minutes remaining—that’s not exactly what I would call a big letdown.
This was exactly the type of game Wake Forest needed to build a little momentum heading into an important stretch with some pretty tough games. The Deacs now face a 5-game slate of at Florida State, at NC State, Miami, at Duke, and Notre Dame. That stretch will likely be a huge factor in where the Deacs finish in the conference this season. It sounds crazy to say it after playing in the dreaded opening day every year since the most recent expansion, but a double bye in the ACC Tournament is well within reach for Wake Forest. Let’s see if they can grab it. Go Deacs!