The first game in the States for the Baby Deacs was a victorious effort, with Wake Forest rallying from ten points down to really take control in the second half and ultimately win by the final margin of 73-66. Travis McKie led scoring with 17 points, but several other Deacs added in double digit scoring efforts, and Madison Jones had a tremendous effort on defense, chipping in seven steals.
Wake Forest went on a 14-3 run to take their first lead of the game in the first half off of a beautiful dunk from Codi Miller-McIntyre, and were up by as many as 15 in the second half. The game was fairly ugly offensively, with Wake shooting 11-31 (0-10 from three) in the first half for 35.5%, but things improved in the second half with 15-29 for 51.7% and 3-6 from deep. Defensively, it was actually a very good effort for the Deacs. They held Rollins to 43.4% shooting for the game, and more importantly forced a tremendous 23 turnovers, leading to 24 points. The Deacs, conversely, only turned the ball over 13 times, and those turnovers only netted Rollins a paltry five points. Now for some individual notes before summing things up.
-Travis McKie, as I expect him to do frequently this year, led the way for the Deacs. He had 17 points (5-15 shooting, 0-4 from three, 7-9 from the free throw line) with five rebounds, two steals, and a block, to go with a pair of turnovers as well in 32 minutes. Really, he's the Travis we've come to know and love; he played hard, did a little bit of everything, and seemed to be in on almost every single play. A very strong performance by Travis.
-C.J. Harris had a deceptively good performance, with 12 points (2-8, 0-3, 8-10), four rebounds, two assists, and a steal in 28 minutes. C.J. showed that he still has no fear with regards to driving on teams, and he's supremely skilled at drawing contact, and making teams pay for that fact as well. I will say I was surprised by how much he struggled shooting from the field, but everyone is going to have an off night, I suppose.
-Chase Fischer played 16 minutes, and had three points (1-5, 0-3, 1-1), two rebounds, two assists, and a steal. Chase seemed to have a slightly understated performance to me, but it was good to see him be more selective and thoughtful in hi shooting, and he absolutely contributed in other ways.
-Codi Miller-McIntyre had a good debut, scoring 12 points (5-7, 1-2, 1-4), one rebound, one assist, one steal, and three turnovers in 22 minutes. I would've liked to have seen CMM distribute a little bit more, but some of his other teammates picked up that slack, and Codi showed some real leadership at points, draining shots at key points to get the team energized. Codi scored on floaters, dunked, and also hit mid-range jumpers, so he is absolutely a scoring threat from anywhere on the floor. He also got into foul trouble, but none of his fouls were really stupid ones; they just involved him playing nice aggressive defense, which is always good to see.
-Aaron Rountree is already a fan favorite, as well he should be. Tree had three points (1-2, 1-1), two rebounds, two blocks, a steal, and a turnover in 11 minutes. Tree hustled perhaps harder than anyone else on the floor, and seemed to genuinely be just enjoying playing basketball. When I say he's already a fan favorite, I wasn't kidding; he got a huge pop coming off of the bench, and it only continued when he drilled Wake Forest's first three pointer of the game. And the blocks, my goodness the blocks. Tree proved tonight that he'll have the potential to be an inside factor if he bulks up, and also continues to make many pretty passes.
-Arnaud Adala Moto had a good performance for us in 19 minutes, with three points (1-2, 0-0, 1-2), a team-high seven rebounds, two blocks, a steal, and three turnovers. Moto showed some real raw athleticism, strength, and a nose for the ball. I'm slightly surprised that he wasn't more aggressive offensively, but I don't have any real complaints, either.
-Tyler Cavanaugh deserves props for getting us started early. In 19 minutes, Cav had six points (3-9, 0-2, 0-0), three rebounds, and two turnovers. Like I said, as much as his stat line may seem underwhelming, he really helped to get us going early offensively, and his missed threes were not bad shots; he continued to show that he has stroke from beyond the arc, the shots just happened to not go down tonight.
-Andre Washington had an okay five minutes, with three points (1-1, 0-0, 1-1), one rebound, and one turnover.
-Devin Thomas was a beast in his 22 minutes. He had ten points (5-8, 0-0, 0-3), six rebounds, one turnover, one block, and one steal. He was extremely active defensively, and was all over the place with hustle plays as well. I really think that if Devin can be good from the line, he'll be an absolute nightmare for opposing teams. He even showed some fire, getting chippy when a shoving match broke out late. Granted. we don't want this to get too far out of control, but it's cool to see that level of energy and passion even in an exhibition game.
-I saved my MVP for last. Madison Jones is, frankly put, a boss. In 26 minutes, Madison had five points (2-3, 1-1, 0-0), two rebounds, a team high five assists, only one turnover, and a positively stunning seven steals. This kid is going to be an absolute nightmare for other teams. He gets into passing lanes more naturally than any Wake point guard I've ever seen in person (I got here the year after CP3 left) and he really is a skilled distributor. I know CMM is the way of the future according to scouts, and I'm not about to say he's not a baller in his own right, because that's clear, but Madison has absolutely been the surprise of this class in my opinion.
Any time you can win pretty darn comfortably shooting 19% from three on 16 shots and only shooting 62.1% on the free throw line on 29 attempts, I can dig it. We need to get better from deep and from the charity stripe, but we know the team has plenty of players capable of that. We were a few bounces away from a real blowout tonight, and there were pieces of really encouraging play from every player on the floor tonight.
I like what I saw. Bring on the regular season. Go Deacs. Let's get it.
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