It seemed like this was the best chance for Wake Forest to get that first win on the road against Syracuse, since the Orange have not even been close to winning a game in the last 2 weeks. Unfortunately, Wake came out and played one of their worst games of the season and trailed for nearly 37 minutes of the game. The Deacs made it look respectable in garbage time, but moved to 10-10 in the conference and 18-13 overall with the 63-73 loss.
By the time this game tipped, the results didn’t really matter. With both teams off the bubble and Georgia Tech beating Boston College, Wake and Syracuse were locked into the 8-9 matchup of the ACC Tournament regardless of who won this game—all that was up for grabs was the right to wear white jerseys on Wednesday.
Maybe Wake was aware of that fact, because they looked terrible out of the gates in this one. The Deacs were struggling to make shots early and constantly trying to throw lackadaisical passes straight through the Syracuse zone. Those passes were, of course, easily intercepted and led to transition points on the other end for the Orange. The Deacs have been awful with their turnovers all season but turning the ball over 14 times in a half (7 of them by Appleby) against a zone might be rock bottom. The Deacs had 1 stretch where they made 4 3-pointers in a row, but other than that they were completely dominated by the Orange in the first half and trailed 29-39 at the break.
Things didn’t get any better in the second half—in fact they somehow managed to get worse. Instead of turnovers, it was offensive rebounding and Jesse Edwards that killed Wake in the second half. With Carr fouling out early in the 2nd and Marsh on the bench, there was nothing stopping Edwards from doing whatever he wanted in the game—Edwards finished the game with 27 points and 20 rebounds and was 1 first half rebound short of having a double-double in both halves.
There’s no way to sugarcoat it, this was one of the worst performances of the season for Wake Forest. Syracuse played pretty badly in this game, shooting 42% from the field and 14% from beyond the arc, and still managed to lead by double digits (as many as 16) for most of the way. The Orange had been blown out of their last 4 games, and the Deacs never really had a chance.
Tyree Appleby had a solid game for Wake Forest, but no one else really did anything. Appleby finished with 21 points, 5 rebounds, and 8 assists and didn’t have a single turnover in the second half after those 7 in the first half. Daivien Williamson was the only Wake Forest player to score in double figures with 11 points on 4-13 shooting.
This was a rough loss, but the Deacs have a chance to get revenge on Wednesday in the ACC Tournament. Without Damari Monsanto, having to play the zone again could actually be the worst possible matchup for the Deacs. We will have to see what adjustments Forbes comes up with for the rematch next week.