It was a game that was close for the entirety of the first half and a fair portion of the second, but it was clear who the better team out there tonight as Wake Forest topped the High Point Panthers by double digits thanks to a thoroughly balanced performance.
-Balance on offense. Four Deacs in double figures, and two Deacs within a single basket of that. Aaron Rountree III had 11 points, C.J. Harris had another step towards his norm with 10 points, Tyler Cavanaugh chipped in 11 points, and Chase Fischer led all scorers with 15 points off of a straight up bonkers 5-8 from behind the arc. Travis McKie chipped in nine points, and Codi Miller-McIntyre had a solid eight points. Also Wake Forest had 15 assists on 23 baskets, demonstrating fantastic ball movement.
-Great free throw shooting. The Deacs were 17-21, for 81%, with Madison Jones (who did a lot of good things out there) going 0-2, and Devin Thomas and Aaron Rountree each going 1-2. Everyone else was perfect, most notably a perfect 6-6 from big man Tyler Cavanaugh.
-Really good defense, with a few caveats. I'll talk about the caveats in the section below, but Wake Forest held High Point to 38% shooting, 33% from three, and the Deacs only committed eight fouls the entire game as a team. Seriously. The Deacs also forced 17 turnovers.
-The return of C.J. Harris and Travis McKie. C.J. looked like he was going to have another rough night, but he ended up with 10 points on eight shots (and he missed his first two), a rebound, two assists, and wonderfully, no turnovers. Travis McKie played with a chip on his shoulder after also starting out rough, and ended up with nine points, 10 rebounds, two assists, two steals, and two blocks with only one turnover in 36 minutes.
-MV-Tree. Aaron Rountree was once again a freak, with 11 points on a perfect shooting night (including two threes), a rebound, two assists (again, should've been more as Tree had at least one perfectly placed pass that wasn't converted), three steals, two blocks, and only one turnover in 21 minutes. One of the blocks was a truly absurd chasedown block on what seemed like a sure fire layup for High Point after a turnover. Tree was not going to let that happen.
-Chase Fischer: arsonist? No, I'm not committing libel, but Mr. Fischer set the nets on fire. He drilled five of eight threes, and one of the misses was halfway down before coming back out. A couple of them were from Greensboro, but you wouldn't have any idea given how easily he swished them.
-Rebounding, rebounding, rebounding. It started out pretty solid, but Wake Forest gave up 16 offensive rebounds, and ended up getting out rebounded by 12, Not good, can't happen. I will say there were some flurries of offensive rebounding by the Deacs that were wonderful, so I liked that.
-John Brown went absolutely HAM. 27 points on 12-22 shooting, 10 rebounds, two steals, and three blocks for the High Point red shirt freshman. I have the utmost respect for Brown, who literally had half of his team's points when the team had scored 54. It was truly inspired. I will say that this actually makes the general defensive percentages by Wake Forest even more impressive, but try as we might we absolutely could not contain John Brown. I don't know if this kid got any offers from major schools, but if he keeps playing like this, he's going to wreck it on High Point's level for the next four years. Unreal.
-Some definite freshman mistakes. It was here and there, but a couple of examples: at one point, Wake Forest had forced a shot clock violation (would have been their second of the night), and Tyler Cavanaugh committed a foul at the last possible moment. At another point, the Deacs had gotten a steal and were riding a wave of momentum when Madison Jones forced a pass up court too quickly, giving the ball right back to the Panthers. I understand the temptation to go full-tilt, and there are times for that, but discretion is the better part of valor, gentlemen. A third example was when the Deacs were once again riding a wave of momentum and tried what would have been an admittedly spectacular alley-oop that probably would've made the Joel explode, but it just didn't pan out, and was probably a bad idea.
I'd say this is assuredly the best game of the year so far for this team, and not just because of the level of competition. The defensive rotations were actually very solid, Wake Forest didn't commit fouls, they hit their free throws, and it well and truly was a team effort. I know, grain of salt, but it took John Brown taking over in a way I haven't seen in ages to even keep High Point in it at all, and you can just tell that the team is learning and growing together. I'm not ready to sing from the hills or anything yet, but if Wake Forest can handle Seton Hall on Saturday, I personally will really be thinking they might surprise some people after all.
Good win. Go Deacs.