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ACC Roundup - Poor Wake Forest

The Deacs looked brilliant for 30 minutes but when Louisville stirred, Wake Forest was helpless.

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Louisville
Feb 5, 2020; Louisville, Kentucky, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons guard Torry Johnson (11) dribbles against Louisville Cardinals forward Malik Williams (5) during the second half at KFC Yum! Center. Louisville defeated Wake Forest 86-76. 
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

It must be tough to be a Wake Forest fan these days. The Demon Deacons went to Louisville Wednesday and in the first half, the Deacons looked like worldbeaters. That team was just on fire. They were playing with verve and confidence and at one point were up 32-17.

At the half, they were still up 46-35.

Wednesday’s Results

  • Louisville 86 Wake Forest 76
  • Notre Dame 80 Pitt 72
  • Virginia 51 Clemson 44
  • NC State 83 Miami 72

No Games until Saturday

ACC Standings

Then, much like Duke at BC earlier this week, Louisville woke up. About five minutes in, Louisville had caught up and passed the Deacs.

And that, as they say, was that.

Cardinal D stiffened and instead of playing with verve and confidence, Wake started to chunk up quick contested shots, mostly from the perimeter.

Well you can’t do that against Louisville.

After that torrid first half, Wake ended up shooting 45 percent.

On the bright side, Chaundee Brown is back and that’s bound to help Wake - just not enough: Louisville won 86-76.

Chris Mack has at times been concerned about getting star Jordan Nwora some help. Wasn’t a big factor here: four starters finished in double figures and so did two guys off the bench.

As usual, Notre Dame’s John Mooney got a double-double Wednesday, this time against Pitt, with 17 points and 10 boards as the Irish won 80-72.

Notre Dame at one point had a 19 point lead and was never really threatened. Size was a major advantage: big men Juwan Durham and Nate Laszewski combined for 22 points and 10 boards. All three big guys combined to shoot 16-28 for 39 points and between them grabbed 20 boards. It just underscores how much Jeff Capel’s team could use some solid inside play.

As we saw at Duke, Justin Champaignie got points up with 20. Xavier Johnson had 17 and Trey McGowan 15.

If you want to sum up NC State and Miami, try this: the ‘Canes are still without Chris Lykes and Kameron Mc Gusty was also out while CJ Bryce snapped out of a scoring slump with 22 points and 11 boards. He hit .500 for the first time since playing Clemson on the 18th of January.

Miami’s just had a tough year. Injuries have ruined this team.

Clemson and Virginia was destined to be a low-scoring defensive fight and it was,with Virginia winning 51-44. Braxton Keys hit two big threes down the stretch that were critical for Virginia and finished with 19.

UVA had a big but nearly wasted advantage from the line with 17 attempts and just 10 makes. That was still better than Clemson’s 4-7 and almost totally accounts for Virginia’s final margin of victory.

Jay Huff is still on a nice career arc: he had 10 points, 10 boards and four blocks.

No games until Saturday, but it’s a busy day around the conference. The highlight game of course is Duke at Carolina. Duke will be favored obviously but UNC is playing better and the standards and emotions of the rivalry will push them to play better still.

Not quite as exciting but still interesting: Virginia at Louisville. Tony Bennett completely owned Rick Pitino and one of the great ACC treats of recent years was watching him as his Cards bounced helplessly off the exterior of Virginia’s defense like a virus that simply can’t penetrate a cell.

Then you’d see something that UVA frequently causes that we call The Face. It’s when coaches or players have no answers and can’t figure out how to deal with Virginia’s potent defense. It’s sad and funny at the same time. You’d see Pitino, normally the fieriest of coaches, just sitting on his bench and staring, knowing he didn’t have any answers.

Can Chris Mack crack it? We’ll see Saturday.