MBB falls in NIT Elite Eight


Courtesy of Dallas Morning News

The Texas A&M Aggies dominated Wake Forest.

Christian Odjakjian, Staff Writer

Sixteen years ago, Steve Forbes and Buzz Wiliams were both assistant coaches on the Texas A&M staff. Fast forward to 2022, and both bald men are at the helm of their respective programs and faced off head to head for a spot in the National Invitational Tournament Semifinals in Madison Square Garden.

The result was the Wake Forest men’s basketball team’s season ending on Wednesday night in College Station with a 67-52 loss. 

The Texas A&M Aggies controlled the game from start to finish.

“They got out to a great start,” Forbes said. “It put our team in a hole that we just couldn’t get out of… Buzz and his staff have done a great job of getting their team to play better and better the entire year. They deserve to play in New York next week.”

Texas A&M set the tone early in front of a packed crowd, jumping out to a double-digit lead. The Aggies’ athleticism and connectivity on the defensive end were very disruptive, and the Demon Deacons played their worst offensive half of basketball this season.

The Aggies led 32-15 at halftime. Wake Forest was an abysmal 4-27 from the field with 12 turnovers in the opening period.

“We knew how to attack them,” Forbes said. “When we did, we got great looks. We didn’t make those looks in the first half, but we made some in the second.”

After falling behind 40-22 a few minutes into the second half, back-to-back long balls from senior Isaiah Mucius and a layup from graduate Khadim Sy cut the lead to just 10 with 14 minutes left to play. However, that was the smallest the deficit would be the rest of the way.

Mucius led the way for Wake Forest with 15 points. Graduate Dallas Walton notched a 10-point, 11-rebound double-double. Junior Jake LaRavia and graduate Alondes Williams only scored a combined 15 points.

“You can’t play [Alondes Williams] straight up,” Buzz Williams said. “You can’t play [LaRavia] straight up. And the teams that we studied that tried to do that did not have success.”

Just like Wake Forest, Texas A&M was barely on the wrong side of the bubble, missing the NCAA Tournament. The Aggies waited a little too long to piece everything together. After losing eight straight games in conference play, they have now won 10 of 11, and are playing some of the best team basketball in the country. Arguably, this was one of Wake Forest’s most difficult games of the season versus a red hot opponent in a true road contest.

The expectations before this season started were very low. Even though not competing in the NCAA Tournament with the ACC Coach and Player of the Year was a disappointment, a 25-10 record, and two NIT wins is still a huge step in the right direction.

“To win 25 games this season is incredible,” Forbes said. “I’m proud of them, and I told them that. We have great momentum in the program, and I’m excited for the future.”