WINSTON-SALEM, NC – For the third-straight game, a Quad-Four opponent hung tight with Wake Forest leading into the halftime break. Thursday, it was Presbyterian’s turn to be trailing by just three. But behind a 34-8 Demon Deacon run over the course of nine minutes, Wake Forest again coasted to victory, finishing the non-conference schedule on a bright 91-68 note.
“There’s times I’ve not been happy, and I let them know it,” head coach Steve Forbes said of the halftime adjustment. “I thought [Presbyterian] played well, we fouled too much and we gave up six threes, which, we just hadn’t really done that. That was something that we had to get under control.
“I didn’t yell at them. There were a couple things we [had to] fix…put the game plan into the game.”
Another recurring theme, five Demon Deacons finished in double-digits; forward Andrew Carr led the way with 21 points and came just one rebound shy of a double-double. Hunter Sallis’ complete performance included two earth-shattering dunks en route to 20 points on 9-12 shooting. Boopie Miller added 19, while Efton Reid and Cam Hildreth scored 14 and 11 respectively.
“He’s great,” Miller said of Sallis. “He gives me a lot of energy.”
“[We] had great balance on offense…” Forbes added. “We’ve got really good chemistry and we share the ball…That’s what you want as a coach, play for each other and not hunt shots. We’ve got a lot of ways to come at you…That will really pay off for us.”
Reid’s scoring output comes as a welcome statistic. Following a successful 12-point Wake Forest debut against Rutgers, the junior did not record a field goal in the following two games. Against Presbyterian, he went 5-9 from the floor and a perfect 4-4 from the free-throw line. He also secured eight rebounds and registered five blocks.
“I didn’t start Efton because Zach [Keller] did anything wrong…” Forbes said. “I thought [it was] maybe a chance to get Efton off to a better start. Get him some game minutes…he needs to get his legs under him. I thought he had a really good day.
“He won the starting position, he just wasn’t allowed to play. He dominated…He’s going to be really good…He’s at an elite level defensively.”
The Demon Deacons shot well all afternoon, knocking down 55% of their shots from the field and 57% from deep. In the second half, the field goal percentage was an even better 60.7.
“I don’t think scoring’s a problem,” Forbes said. “We’re one of the top offensive teams in the country.”
Wake Forest’s second-half scoring spree was kickstarted by a 13-0 run out of the break. Sallis rolled in a layup, before three dunks and a three-pointer kept the streak rolling. Another facet of the game was also critical.
“Getting stops,” Sallis said. “We don’t go on a run like that without getting stops.”
The Deacs did not have a run as large in the first half as the second, but put together similar efforts of seven and five-straight. The Blue Hose never lost their footing though, using short bursts of their own to keep the deficit no larger than seven. In the final five minutes of the half, Wake Forest’s lead never exceeded four.
After being out-rebounded 20-12 in the first half, Wake Forest flipped the script and won that battle by four in the second. The Deacs also reduced their fouls by four in the final 20 minutes. The team recorded 38 points in the paint and 26 off Presbyterian’s 15 turnovers.
With the end of Wake Forest’s non-conference schedule come and gone, Forbes’ team will take a nine-day pause for the holiday before returning home to The Joel for a matchup with Virginia Tech on December 30.
“We need to fill it up,” Forbes said. “These guys deserve it.”
Tip off is set for 2pm on ESPN2.