This game was absolutely never in doubt, and it was one of those games where it wasn’t even as close as the final score would indicate. Wake Forest flirted with a school record, absolutely splashing from deep, tallying 18 threes as a team, including an incredible 4 makes on 7 attempts from the returning Damari Monsanto in only 8 minutes (with two near misses in garbage time). But it wasn’t just Monsanto. Parker Friedrechsen was 3-4, Hunter Sallis was 5-8, Andrew Carr was 3-7 (though one was a very near miss in garbage time that was the right play), and Boopie Miller made his lone attempt. It wasn’t perfect; Louisville dominated the paint in terms of scoring, and Cameron Hildreth remained rough offensively, tallying 8 points on 3-9 shooting and with 3 turnovers. But Cameron continued to make plays other ways, having several impactful defensive plays and unquestionably assisting in the crisp, clean passing that helped lead to the absolutely insane shooting from beyond the arc.
And let me be clear; these were not forced shots. The team was moving with intent, making passes and cuts, and when your team is red hot from deep, you should absolutely continue to ride that wave, especially when your three point defense is as outstanding on a day as the offense. Louisville was 2-11 from three point range, and one of those makes was when the game was already well out of hand. On one hand, I can see some folks being concerned that the paint scoring was as good as it was for Louisville, but on the other, many of the makes were tough, midrange twos, and we’ve seen Wake be capable of playing absolutely suffocating defense in the past. If anything, I think the clearly remarkable perimeter defense on the day is more encouraging considering the loss at Florida State was on the back of woeful 3 point defense. Furthermore, the turnovers, which were the sole reason for the collapse at NC State, were also cleaned up. 8 team turnovers to 20 team assists, and several of those TOs came when things were already loosened up by the game being wrapped up.
This upcoming week is absolutely MASSIVE, with road opportunities at North Carolina and Pittsburgh. If the Deacs can win either of those, I think the chances of Wake not needing a First Four game look considerably rosier. What I can say is, this game did as good of a job as possible of getting the bad taste from the collapse in Raleigh out of my mouth. Let’s shock the world next week.
On to the next. Go Deacs.