Men’s basketball wins second ACC game


Senior Isaiah Mucius scored 13 points in 27 minutes of action.

Christian Odjakjian, Staff Writer

Wake Forest secured its second ACC win of the season with a 66-54 victory over a shorthanded Miami Hurricanes team at home last Saturday. After an ugly start, in which the Demon Deacons (5-7, 2-7) missed their first 9 shots and found themselves down 7-0, shots started to fall and they took control of the game. Wake Forest captured a 14-13 lead and never trailed the rest of the game.

“We started to settle down,” junior forward Isaiah Mucius said, “and understand that offensively we were going to be able to get anywhere we wanted.”

The Hurricanes (6-10, 2-9) had lost three straight games entering the contest. They have been without their best player, senior guard Chris Lykes, for all but two games this year because of an ankle injury.

Miami was also without guards Earl Timberlake and Elijah Olaniyi, who average 9 points per game apiece. To add insult to injury, freshman and top-100 recruit Matt Cross was dismissed from the program earlier in the week.

Wake Forest hit nine of their 13 three-pointers in the first half, and held a 34-24 lead at the break. Five different Wake Forest players hit multiple shots from downtown, as the team shot a 44.8% clip from deep on the day.

The offensive rhythm was great, but Head Coach Steve Forbes was just as happy with the team’s defensive performance.

“I thought we did a good job today of executing the defensive game plan,” Forbes said. “We didn’t let the ball get into the middle.”

The undermanned Miami squad cut the deficit to 45-40 with nine minutes left on the clock, but the Demon Deacons answered with a big shot from Davien Williamson, who led Wake Forest’s scoring with 16 points in the game. The sophomore guard caught a pass in the corner, got his defender soaring in the air with a pump fake, took one dribble to the side and buried a big three.

Another highlight of the game, courtesy of Mucius, came early in the second half on the defensive end. Miami’s Harlond Beverly was out in transition with a seemingly free run at the rim, but Mucius hustled back and leaped into the air to block the shot against the backboard.

“My legs were feeling really good today,” he joked after the game, “I don’t know if it was the tights I was wearing.”

Carter Whitt, the late enrollee freshman who arrived in Winston-Salem in mid-December, turned in his best effort as a Demon Deacon in this contest. The team’s youngest player looked much more comfortable and under control in the ninth college game of his career, only turning the ball over once and providing a spark offensively. He scored 11 points and was perfect from the field, making all three of his attempts from behind the arc.

“I haven’t shot it great this year, but making those threes today definitely helped my confidence,” Whitt said.

“I think it will definitely help our team a lot if he can start making those consistently,” Forbes said. “He’s been staying after practice a lot and getting extra shots up,” he continued. “We worked on his technique with his feet. The more he plays the more confident he is going to get. Pretty solid day for a high school kid.”

Senior Kameron McGusty led the way for Miami with 17 points, hitting three three-pointers. Sophomore Isaiah Wong added 14, with four makes from deep, but went down late with an ankle injury and didn’t return. In a game where Wake Forest made it rain from downtown, sophomore sharpshooter Ismael Massoud surprisingly didn’t get in on the action. Only one game removed from his 31 point explosion in the win over Pittsburgh, Massoud played 12 scoreless minutes and missed eight shots. The situation speaks to the depth and balance of this team and how different guys can step up on different nights.

Ten different players got minutes in the game for Wake Forest, and that depth should be increasing soon. Houston Baptist graduate transfer Ian Dubose is back to practicing after missing significant action due to undisclosed medical reasons, and he should be ready to suit up this week. Dubose’s experience will surely be a boost for the Deacs and a great compliment to the youth on this roster. After a bad loss in South Bend against Notre Dame on Feb. 2, the Demon Deacons travel north to face Boston College on Feb. 10.