Opponent preview: Everything you need to know ahead of Syracuse’s matchup with Wake Forest

first_img Published on January 3, 2018 at 12:30 am Contact Sam: sjfortie@syr.edu | @Sam4TR Syracuse (12-2, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) heads to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on a two-game win streak to face Wake Forest (7-6, 0-1) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum. After a six-game win streak, the Demon Deacons have dropped two straight, including their ACC opener to North Carolina. This game is important for both teams, as Wake Forest hopes to avoid dropping to .500 again and Syracuse wants to prove that, unlike last season, it can win on the road consistently.The Demon Deacons’ center, Doral Moore, detailed to reporters that Wake Forest will attack Syracuse’s 2-3 zone like many other teams, with dribble penetration in the middle or finding a cutter at the free-throw line.“I’ll be able to move a lot more, not too many people are going to double-team me or front me,” Moore said. “I’ll be able to move around and catch lobs if we can get into the middle of the zone. We can get any shot we want as long as we penetrate the zone and get through it, we’ll be fine. I’m excited about that.”Here’s everything you need to know about the Demon Deacons.All-time series: Syracuse leads, 5-0AdvertisementThis is placeholder textLast time they played: Last season, Andrew White nailed a clutch 3 from the right corner with 1:23 left to push the Orange past the Demon Deacons and get back to .500 in league play. White totaled a then-season-high 27 points as Taurean Thompson chipped in 18 and Tyler Lydon posted 15 points, nine rebounds and five assists. John Collins, Wake Forest’s sophomore big man, scored 23; the Atlanta Hawks later selected him with the 19th pick in this year’s NBA Draft. Syracuse’s victory sparked a five-game win streak that included a court-storming against Florida State and an ill Tyus Battle drilling a game-winner at Clemson.The Wake Forest report: The Demon Deacons’ season in a word: Inconsistent. There’s the four losses in the team’s first five games against Georgia Southern, Liberty, Drake and Houston. (Win against Quinnipiac.) There’s the six-game win streak, including a victory over Illinois. There’s the 19-point loss against Tennessee on Dec. 23. Then there’s last Saturday, when WFU erased a 10-point deficit to lead by four with four-and-a-half minutes to go against North Carolina, one of the best teams in the country. The Demon Deacons never scored again, losing by four, but their performance showed the team was far from the early-season version of itself.In terms of production, Wake Forest is something of a Virginia Tech Lite on offense. The Demon Deacons are the 31st most efficient offense in the country, per kenpom.com, and shoot well from beyond the arc (38.7 percent) and inside it (52.2). The offense primarily runs through 6-foot-3, 200-pound combo guard Bryant Crawford, who last year joined Chris Paul and Ish Smith as the only Deacons with at least 300 assists by the end of their sophomore season. This year, Crawford has finished 28.9 percent of WFU’s possessions, one of the highest rates in the nation, according to Kenpom, and he averages 15.3 points per game.On defense, the Demon Deacons are a middle-of-the-road squad which has its weaknesses align with Syracuse’s, because the Orange is one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the country and the Demon Deacons are one of the worst at defending it. WFU, which plays some zone, has an imposing anchor in Moore, the 7-foot-1, 280-pound center who has the 22nd-best block rate in the country, per Kenpom.Also of note: Former Duke star and current ESPN analyst Jay Bilas’ son, Anthony, is a junior walk-on for Wake Forest. He has played five minutes over three games and missed his only shot this season. How Syracuse beats the Demon Deacons: Crush Wake Forest on the offensive glass.WFU is one of the nation’s worst defensive teams at keeping opponents off the boards, allowing offensive rebounds 31.3 percent of the time. Syracuse is the nation’s third-best team at bullying its way onto the offensive glass (39.5 percent). North Carolina used its offensive-rebounding prowess to erase its late deficit, and Wake Forest head coach Danny Manning specifically cited the 16 second-chance points his team allowed as a main reason for the loss. SU hopes WFU hasn’t learned any better in its three-day layoff.Stat to know: 21.6More than one-fifth of Wake Forest’s offense comes at the free-throw line, collecting 21.6 percent of its nearly 79 points per game there. The Demon Deacons average about 17 attempts per game and hit 75.8 percent of them, the nation’s 37th-best rate. This is important because St. Bonaventure, which upset Syracuse on Dec. 22 in the Carrier Dome, was a similar team at the free-throw line. The Bonnies’ charity-stripe success keyed their victory despite making just one field goal in the last 11 minutes of play.Kenpom odds: Kenpom gives Syracuse a 48 percent chance to win and predicts a 67-66 loss for the Orange.Player to watch: Keyshawn Woods, guard, redshirt junior, No. 1Woods leads the Demon Deacons in scoring (16 points per game) despite starting just four games this season. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound guard backs up freshman Chaundree Brown but still plays more than two-thirds of the team’s minutes. Woods transferred to Wake Forest after leading the Conference USA in 3-point shooting at Charlotte in 2014-2015, but he’s more than a specialist. Last season, he was WFU’s only player to rank in the top three for scoring, rebounding and assists. The Orange’s zone should note Woods’ location at all times on Wednesday. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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