TALLAHASSEE, FL – In the end, it’s hard to win a college basketball game in the ACC — or anywhere for that matter — with 20 turnovers. Wake Forest just about did. But for every time the Deacons came close to Florida State’s lead, or took one themselves, the Seminoles were the team to find a way to work it out, handing Wake Forest its first conference loss of the season, 87-82.
“I thought Florida State did a really, really good job of speeding us up on offense the entire game with their aggressiveness, their length and their switching,” head coach Steve Forbes said postgame. “They made it very difficult for us to get a catch on offense, which led to over-dribbling and trying to make plays for ourselves instead of moving the ball. I thought they were very handsy on defense.”
Florida State’s defense was so effective that it even impacted the Deacs’ inbounds plays, where several turnovers occurred.
“I think I did a poor job of preparing them for out of bounds,” Forbes said. “I thought we turned it over too much. Against out-of-bounds plays, we knew what was coming. We had some good stuff in, but obviously I did a poor job of preparing them for it.”
Over halfway into the opening period, Wake Forest had nine turnovers. Around that same time, the Deacons faced a deficit of 12 points. Scoring was hard to come by, and the Seminoles were outperforming Wake Forest physically on both sides of the court.
“They had good physicality, but at the end of the day, we gotta match that…” Efton Reid said. “Be more gritty.
“We can’t turn the ball over. You can’t win like that. It’s statistically proven, you can’t have 20 turnovers. We got to take care of the ball, play good defense and be the more physical team. The stats don’t lie.”
At times, the Deacons’ defense was effective. At other points, it was a serious struggle. In the second half, the Seminoles shot 56% from the floor, and finished the game 51% overall.
“Our offense, our turnovers, putting us in defensive transition behind the play,” Forbes said. “I think once we got to where we could get them in the half court, we were pretty good. We have been all year…We got back-cut two or three times out of the corner which is unforgivable…fouling guys when they’re probably not going to make the basket. Tough twos.”
Though Wake Forest finished the game with a 47.5 shooting percentage, there were stretches where the offense ran cold. Nothing was falling.
“We got to take better shots…” Reid said. “We had a lot of bad shot selections.”
Florida State’s pressure defense did a lot to stymie Wake Forest as well. But its response to said pressure was disappointing in Forbes’ eyes.
“I don’t think they listened to us as far as putting the game plan into the game,” he said. “I think they practiced it. And then they didn’t do it…[FSU is] gonna switch, gonna make life difficult. You have to be tough enough to get a possession catch on offense, then you have to move it and then cut…get them behind the play, and then drive them. Then the plays, a lot of the time, are not for you. It’s for somebody else because they come running [inside].”
“It’s pretty simple, but we didn’t do that,” Forbes continued. “We just tried to beat them off the dribble from the get go without passing the ball. That’s not working. That’s what they want. And so we played right into their hands.”
For all Wake Forest’s struggles in the first half, a 13-2 stretch put the Deacons right back into the game, trailing by just one heading to the locker room.
Only, the same issues occurred to open the second; on four-successive possessions, the Deacons turned the ball over, contributing to 14-straight points for Florida State.
“The way we started the second half, I don’t know what team that was,” Forbes said. “I’ve been coaching for 35 years, I guess you have those moments where you’re like, ‘what are we doing?’”
Yet, Wake Forest found a way again to claw back. After nine-consecutive points from over eight-minute mark to six, the Deacons held a two-point lead. Only, Florida State scored 15 of the next 18. From there, it hung on to the finish line.
In the end, it was several mistakes across nearly the entire lineup that cost Wake Forest.
“Two of Efton’s fouls were probably because our guards got beat off the dribble or gambled or did something they weren’t supposed to do…” Forbes said. “He’s got to learn to calm down. He’s got to put body between with hands up. That’s something he can get better at.
“We need more out of Andrew [Carr]. I don’t think he was very effective either. Steady, but we need more. I think the game was a little too fast for Marcus [Marion]. It’s hard coming in there like that and being a freshman…[Hunter Sallis] didn’t do a very good job of playing off two feet.”
With its first loss in the ACC, Wake Forest now sits at 11-4 on the season. There is little time for recovery; a Virginia team — looking to prove something after two-straight losses — comes to the Joel on Saturday.
“We’re gonna have a mad animal coming in on Saturday,” Forbes said. “Because I guarantee they’re gonna be ready to play. So we got to go back and…we got to learn from some film and get ready to be up for a big game.”