What a difference a week or so can make in the ACC. Just 11 days ago, Wake Forest beat a ranked Clemson team to cement themselves as 2nd place in the ACC and had a solid chance of making the NCAA Tournament. Now, the Deacs have basically blown 3 games in a row and are slowly working their way into the opening day of the ACC Tournament. At this rate, Wake will be lucky to make the NIT.
I’m not going to say much about this game because I’m fairly angry and I don’t think any of it would be very positive. The Deacs dominated this game for probably 30 minutes and then just threw away a double digit lead in about 12 minutes for their third straight loss. With 13:02 remaining in the game, Wake had a 53-43 lead and looked like they were headed to a win. Just 6 minutes later, the Wolfpack had tied the game 62-62. After a couple of 3-pointers from LJ Thomas and Casey Morsell, NC State took a 4 point lead and never looked back.
With Terquavion Smith on the bench due to foul trouble, the Wolfpack went to DJ Burns almost every possession in the second half, and boy did he deliver. In the second half alone, Burns scored 23 of his 31 points on 10-15 shooting. He was simply dominating Matthew Marsh in the post, getting to his left hand and just muscling his way into the paint for easy baskets. At one point, I think he had scored on something like 9 of NC State’s previous 10 possessions. The one possession Wake tried to double team him, Burns found LJ Thomas open in the corner for a 3-pointer.
At the same time Burns was becoming unstoppable, the Wake Forest offense reverted back to primarily 1 on 1 play with Appleby driving to the basket or Hildreth trying to back his way into the paint. There were several possessions where the Deacs passed the ball maybe one time, if that. The result: Wake went completely cold and scored 12 points in about 10 minutes. As this team isn’t the best defensively, Wake really can’t survive a stretch like that from the offense.
At 6-5 in the ACC, Wake finds themselves in a bit of a danger zone with road games against Duke and Notre Dame and a home game against North Carolina coming up. The Deacs desperately need to find a way to close out a game if they want this losing streak to end any time soon. If they don’t, they may play themselves right out of post season consideration.
Another tough loss, but as always, Go Deacs!