Deacons pound Paladins
One-sided victories have been rare for Wake Forest during the Jeff Bzdelik era.
Taking advantage of one of the lesser lights on their schedule, the Demon Deacons authored one Tuesday.
Finally asserting command near the end of the first half, Wake (5-5) rolled to a 79-55 victory over a Furman team that had lost by 27 to both Mercer and Loyola of Illinois. The Deacons’ 24-point margin of victory was just the second biggest, topped only by a 29-point blowout of Boston College last season, and just the third of 20 points or more, since Bzdelik took over as coach before the start of the 2010-11 season.
Finally disrupting the Paladins’ offense with a zone press, the Deacons ran off 10 straight points to go from three down to lead 37-30 at the half and parlayed a combination of defense and an efficient offense to put together a 20-4 run for a 59-38 lead with 11:25 to go.
“Early in the game, we missed a combination of five layups and dunks,” Bzdelik said, “but we’ve been working on mental toughness and it didn’t defuse our defensive energy. In the past we allowed missing shots to diffuse our energy but today we did not. We stayed steady start to finish and that was a good thing.”.
C.J. Harris led the Deacons with 20 points after keeping them afloat with 16 in the first half. Travis McKie added 16 points and six rebounds, and freshman Tyler Cavanaugh added 12 points that included a clutch 3 to end the first half and a couple of buckets in the decisive second-half run. Of the 11 Deacons who saw game action, 10 scored.
Wake held the Paladins to 36.5 per cent shooting for the game.
“We continued to defend in the second half,” Bzdelik said. “We didn’t take possessions off like we have in past games.”
The Deacons shot 60 percent in the second half and outscored the Paladins 46-12 in the paint. Colin Reddick and Stephen Croone led Furman with 12 points apiece.
“We just ran through our offense,” Harris said of the second half outburst. “We didn’t take quick shots. The big guys and guards were setting good body screens and that led to the inside guys getting open.”
Wake returns to action Saturday with a trip to the Greensboro Coliseum to face UNCG.