Men’s basketball fails to fight headwinds against Miami

Wake Forest’s 19 turnovers loom large in a consequential defeat


Courtesy of Wake Forest Athletics

Steve Forbes expresses frustration during a loss to Miami.

Avikar Khakh, Contributing Writer

This past Saturday, Feb. 18, Wake Forest (17-10, 9-7 ACC) visited No. 13 Miami (22-5, 13-4) in hopes of extending its win streak to four games. However, the Demon Deacons fell short as the Hurricanes’ overpowering offense led Miami to a 96-87 victory. 

Wake Forest’s carelessness with the basketball made it simple for Miami’s dominant offense to create transition baskets, which led to 34 points off of Demon Deacon turnovers. Wake Forest was trampled in the turnover battle, coughing up 19 to Miami’s 10, and graduate guard Tyree Appleby, uncharacteristically enough, had 12 to his name. 

“I thought we got off to a bad start in both halves,” Wake Forest head coach Steve Forbes said after the game. “Turnovers at the end of the day really hurt us. We had 19. That’s not typical for our team.”

Forbes began the game with his usual starters of Appleby, Cameron Hildreth, Damari Monsanto, Andrew Carr and Matthew Marsh. The Demon Deacons got off to a poor start, allowing the Hurricanes to go on a 7-0 scoring run, forcing Forbes to utilize an early timeout under two minutes into the first half. 

However, the Demon Deacons came out strong after the timeout, eventually going on a 9-0 run and gaining a 12-11 lead over Miami. Both the Hurricanes and the Demon Deacons were trading baskets, going back and forth offensively. A big part of the Demon Deacon offense in this contest was graduate Daivien Williamson (12 PTS, 4/8 3PT), whose crucial baskets kept Miami from running away with the game. 

With four minutes remaining in the first half, the Hurricanes were able to break out offensively with a 17-3 run, led by their star player Isaiah Wong. Wong, a dynamic guard who can finish at the rim and shoot a deep ball, finished the game with 27 points all while shooting an extremely efficient 56% from the field.

Despite Miami’s strong scoring run toward the end of the first half, Wake Forest responded with a 7-0 scoring run of their own. The half would end with Miami leading 47-44. 

Coming out of the break, the Demon Deacons once again faltered at the beginning of the half, allowing the Hurricanes to go on a prominent 11-0 scoring run. After the shaky start, Wake Forest started to crawl back into the game by hitting its shots more consistently. Regardless, Wake Forest’s inability to take care of the basketball hurt them significantly, constantly giving Miami opportunities to add to its lead. Furthermore, the Demon Deacons’ turnovers led to quick and impactful transition baskets for Miami. The Hurricanes earned 20 points off fast breaks.

“You just can’t have those atomic bomb-like turnovers in a high-level game,” Forbes said.

With a little under 10 minutes remaining in the game, the Demon Deacons were able to cut the Hurricanes’ lead down to three points. However, Miami’s elite shotmaking from Wong and sophomore guard Nijel Pack (24 PTS) never allowed Wake Forest to retake the lead or become a legitimate threat to win the game down the stretch. With the game coming to an end, the Hurricanes scored a few late baskets and were able to finish the game with a 96-87 win. 

This contest against Miami turned what could have been a prime opportunity for the Demon Deacons to strengthen their resume for the NCAA Tournament into a conference loss, resulting in Wake Forest dropping to seventh in the ACC.

The Demon Deacons now look toward having a few days off before another important matchup against NC State University (21-7, 11-6) on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 9 p.m. in Raleigh.