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Syracuse’s game against Miami was a tale of two halves as the Orange defense put in one of its best defensive performances of the season in the first half, holding the Hurricanes to just 30 points. But in the second half, a season-high 19 turnovers allowed Miami to storm back and score 58 points in its 1-point victory over the Orange.
Up next for Syracuse (7-7, 1-2 Atlantic Coast) is Wake Forest (12-3, 2-2 ACC). The Demon Deacons recently lost to Miami by eight, but they are entering Saturday’s game following a 22-point win over Florida State.
Here’s what you need to know about Wake Forest as Syracuse wraps up its two-game conference road trip:
Syracuse leads 9-1.
Last time they played
The last time Syracuse played Wake Forest was Feb 8, 2020, a couple of weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the ACC Tournament. The two teams squared off in the Carrier Dome, and the Orange won 75-73. While Buddy Boeheim and Elijah Hughes both contributed at least 20 points each, it was Brycen Goodine who scored the most important bucket of the game.
Wake Forest tied the game with 21 seconds remaining, and the Orange elected to put the ball in Hughes’ hands for the final shot. Hughes missed the potential game-winner, but the then-freshman Goodine grabbed the offensive rebound and laid in the putback game-winner.
KenPom gives Wake Forest a 67% chance of winning with a projected score of 82-77.
The Wake Forest report
The Demon Deacons are currently seventh in the ACC. Wake Forest has wins over Virginia Tech and FSU and also an overtime win over Northwestern. But Wake Forest has lost two of its last three games, falling to Louisville and Miami. In Steve Forbes’ first season in charge in 2020-21, the Demon Deacons finished with a subpar record of 6-16, but they doubled that amount in just 15 games this season.
Forbes’ team ranks inside KenPom’s top-80 in offensive and defensive efficiency. Wake averages 80.2 points per game while holding opponents to 68.3. A big key to their defensive is that the Demon Deacons allow an offensive rebound percentage of just 23.7% per KenPom. Wake doesn’t allow many second-chance points with seven-foot center Dallas Walton having 66 defensive rebounds this season.
How Syracuse beats Wake Forest
If Syracuse is to win this game it will likely be in a shootout. The Orange must manage their turnovers if they are to build big enough leads to fend off potential comebacks. They proved that even without Buddy Boeheim, who scored just nine points against Miami, they are more than capable of scoring in bunches. Jesse Edwards, Joe Girard III and Cole Swider all scored at least 20 points, with head coach Jim Boeheim imploring Swider after the game to stay aggressive.
The Syracuse defense likely isn’t good enough to stop Wake Forest, but the potential is there after the Orange limited Miami in the first half. To get back on track in the ACC, Syracuse will need all five starters to score big to pick up a win over the Demon Deacons.
Player to watch: Alondes Williams, guard, No. 31
The 6-foot-5 graduate student transferred to Wake Forest from Oklahoma this summer. The guard began his collegiate career at Triton College, a National Junior College Athletic Association program, before joining the Sooners. Williams never started more than 14 games at Oklahoma, and he scored a career-high 15 points.
Since transferring to Wake Forest, Williams has begun to stuff the stat sheet. He leads the team in points per game with 20.1 while also leading the Demon Deacons in assists (77) and rebounds (95). Williams is capable of taking over the scoring load in any game as he scored 70 total points in back-to-back games against VMI and Charlotte. He also notched a triple-double against USC Upstate with 16 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists.
Stat to know: 58.4%
Wake Forest scores 58.4% of its 2-point shots, which is fourth in the nation on KenPom. 2-pointers make up 51.2% of the Demon Deacons’ overall points. A large part of this success inside comes from the Wake’s size. It has just one player under 6-foot-5 in its starting lineup.
Forward Jake LaRavia leads the team with 68.2% of his shots in the paint. Wake Forest’s 2-point shooting might not be a threat to Syracuse on paper as the Orange have looked the weakest against teams who get hot from 3. But SU’s 2-point defense ranks 239th in the country per KenPom, so Wake Forest will likely attack Syracuse there.