The Demon Deacons have had an adventurous season to this point as they stand 11-7 overall and 2-4 in league play. Wake Forest has held halftime leads in five of their last six losses; however, they held on to beat Miami. Wednesday night Wake Forest picked up a huge win defeating Miami 96-79, their 96 points were the most Miami has surrendered all season. What do you need to know about the Demon Deacons before Saturday’s 2 o’clock tip?
Wake Forest has already matched their ACC win total from last season. They have improved in many aspects but especially offensively.
The Demon Deacons have pushed their scoring average to 80.2 PPG an improvement from last seasons 74 PPG. Danny Manning has a group of players that can get it done offensively with four players averaging double figures PPG. Wake Forest shoots 47% from the field and 39% from three. Their balance offensively really stretches opponents defensively. The Deacons proved when things click offensively they can score with the best of them. Miami considered one of the best defensive teams in the ACC gave up 96 points to the Deacons! Wake Forest likes to push the ball at every chance, make or miss.
John Collins and Bryant Crawford are a dynamic duo.
John Collins is averaging 16.4 PPG and 8.8 RPG. The 6-10 sophomore displays excellent body control, skill, and athleticism to beat defenders offensively. The Demon Deacons have done a great job at finding Collins as he rolls to the basket for the high percentage lob pass. Collins is shooting an outstanding 59% from the field as well as 71% from the free-throw line. Collins also possesses a quick second jump which makes him a terror on the offensive glass.
Pairing with Collins is guard Bryant Crawford who gives Wake scoring from the perimeter. Crawford is an athletic guard who likes to use his quickness and jumping ability to finish inside. This season Crawford is averaging 14.7 PPG while shooting 45% from the field. Head Coach Danny Manning likes to put Crawford in high ball screen action from the wing where he excels at turning the corner hard to get to the rim. In the UNC game, he was able to probe inside finishing 7-10 from the field for 22 points. In addition to scoring Crawford is second in the ACC in assists per game averaging 5.9.
Defensively the Deacons need to continue improving if they are going to take the next step as a team.
Many players openly talked about how they have got to get better on defense if they are going to win consistently. Sophomore Keyshawn Woods said after the Miami game that his team can be one of the top programs in the ACC if they defend start to finish. Defensively Wake Forest opponents are averaging 74.9 PPG and shooting 45% from the field. Wake needs to replicate their defensive effort in the first-half of the Miami game where they held the Canes to 35% shooting if they want to make some noise in the ACC.
Wake Forest has improved dramatically from a season ago. Power Forward John Collins gives the Deacons a matchup nightmare that teams struggle to defend. Bryant Crawford has the ability to score in bunches as well as play hard nose defense. Danny Manning wants his team to be more aggressive at attacking the paint and recognizing game situations. Offensively Wake can score with any team in the country although getting stops is what wins games. Can Wake Forest get stops consistently enough to finish in the top half of the ACC?