Sat, 27 Feb 2021

'Resilient' Wake Forest faces slumping NC State

Field Level Media
27 Jan 2021, 04:55 GMT+10

North Carolina State is coming apart. And Wake Forest might be coming together.

That's how things look heading into Wednesday night's Atlantic Coast Conference contest between the Demon Deacons and host Wolfpack in Raleigh, N.C.

Wake Forest (4-6, 1-6 ACC) finally produced a league victory under first-year coach Steve Forbes on Saturday. After a string of games with close second halves went in the wrong direction for the Demon Deacons, they figured out the finishing touch to defeat visiting Pittsburgh 76-75.

"They're just a resilient bunch of guys," Forbes said. "This is their seventh game since January 4th, and they haven't had a lot of practice time, but they've been so positive and worked so hard."

NC State (6-5, 2-4) hasn't been nearly as busy. The Wolfpack had two games postponed due to coronavirus issues and then returned to the court and lost 86-76 on Saturday at North Carolina.

The defeat was their fourth in a row.

"Everybody has got to get on the same page," NC State coach Kevin Keatts said. "Everybody has got to continue to work. We've got to get back in shape and figure everything out."

While the games are welcomed for the Wolfpack, the team also needs time to get back into a good playing rhythm.

"Your team is just not the same team when you don't have the chance to practice as much as you can," Keatts said. "You have to live with it. You've got to get better. You've got to live with it and try to figure it out."

Wake Forest made 15 shots from 3-point range in the Pittsburgh game. That was the most 3s for the Demon Deacons in an ACC game since they hit 19 in a February 2002 matchup against Clemson. Ismael Massoud hit eight 3-pointers -- in 10 attempts -- on his way to 31 points against Pittsburgh.

The trip to NC State means a hometown visit for Wake Forest's Ody Oguama and freshman guard Carter Whitt. Whitt gave up his senior year of high school to become an early entry into college last month.

"Carter Whitt has been outstanding," Forbes said.

NC State's Devon Daniels averages a team-best 16.2 points per game. Manny Bates, who blocked seven shots Saturday, is third nationally in rejections per game at 3.4.

Shakeel Moore had been an impact player earlier in the season for the Wolfpack. He played four first-half minutes at North Carolina and stayed on the sideline in the second half.

Keatts shook off any long-term issue involving Moore.

"I'm one of those guys that rewards guys that are practicing well," the coach said. "He's going to be fine. He's a freshman. He's going to play great in our program."

--Field Level Media

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