"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

'Covers the campus like the magnolias'
"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

Men’s basketball faces tall test, lose to Utah 77-70

Wake Forest drops game to Pac-12 foe despite Sallis career-high
Hunter Sallis rises for a shot over a Utah defender. The junior guard finished the night with a career-high 20 points, two rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block. (Courtesy of Wake Forest Athletics)

Wake Forest lost in the first of three games in the Shriners Children’s Charleston Classic, falling to the Utah Utes, 77-70. 

The Utes (35 KenPom, 80 NET), came into the preseason predicted seventh in the Pac-12 this year and provided a rare non-conference opportunity for Wake Forest (70 KP, 89 NET) to improve their resume in anticipation of March. 

Playing the Utes (3-0) was a tall task, both literally and figuratively. As the second tallest team in the country, the Utes were led by seven-footers Lawson Lovering and Branden Carlson, the latter of which showed why he was named to first-team All Pac-12 last season. 

The height problem was compounded for Wake Forest by the absence of 7’1” Matthew Marsh, who was sidelined due to a head injury sustained in last week’s game against Georgia. Gonzaga transfer Efton Reid would have also played a part if not for the undetermined status of his two-time transfer waiver appeal.

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Forward Zach Keller was thrown into a more prominent position in Marsh’s stead, starting for the first time this season. The sophomore held his own, tallying 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting.

Gritty play also came from the guard position, as freshman Parker Friedrichsen led the team with six rebounds. Cameron Hildreth and Keller followed suit with five boards each.

Hildreth himself had an up-and-down game, scoring all of his 14 points in the first half. His 6-of-8 shooting in the first frame led the Demon Deacons to a 10-point lead entering halftime, their first time entering halftime with a lead in this young season.

Production did come out of Hildreth’s teammates, as well. Gonzaga transfer Hunter Sallis put up a career-high 20 points on an efficient 8-of-13 shooting. Central Michigan transfer Kevin “Boopie” Miller added seven points and a team-leading three assists in the game.

Obviously, the biggest problem is that we gave up nine offensive rebounds in the second half. We had too many missed defensive assignments in the second half, too.

— Steve Forbes, Head Men's Basketball Coach

Because of the Utes’ size, team captain and senior forward Andrew Carr’s 6-foot-10-inch frame became crucial to keep on the floor. However, problems arose when Carr was called for his fourth foul with nearly eight minutes remaining in the second half — leaving the door open for a Utes run that put them up by five.

The 11-0 run was initially sparked by a deep Cole Bajema 3-pointer, exploiting the Demon Deacons’ 2-3 zone defense.

“Our zone defense hurt us,” Head Coach Steve Forbes said. “In the zone our guys sunk too low. They have to play it up the court.”

The score was knotted up at 60 after Lovering fought through contact from Keller and finished after a dump-off inside from senior guard Hunter Erickson for the bucket and a foul.

“I wasn’t very pleased with the three or four and-ones at the basket in the second half,” Forbes said. “If you’re going to foul a guy, foul him, don’t give him an and-one.”

The Utes went up five after a pair of baskets from Carlson, who scored a career-high 31 points on 60% shooting from field goal range. Carlson also led the Utes with five blocks on the day.

“We had a really hard time keeping Branden Carlson under control,” Forbes said. “He’s a really good player, and we were worried about him. He did a lot of damage inside and out.”

Wake Forest would not gain the lead back, despite a Parker Friedrichsen 3-pointer that brought the Demon Deacons within two points with two minutes remaining. After the Runnin’ Utes won 77-70, Forbes spoke about the most prevalent problems for his team.

“Obviously, the biggest problem is that we gave up nine offensive rebounds in the second half,” Forbes said. “We had too many missed defensive assignments in the second half, too.”

After defeating the Towson Tigers, 71-61, the Demon Deacons will take on the LSU Tigers in the final game of the Charleston Classic on Sunday at 3 p.m. on ESPN2.

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About the Contributor
Sean Kennedy
Sean Kennedy, Sports Editor
Sean is a junior from Long Island, NY majoring in communication and minoring in journalism and film studies. Outside of the OGB, he is the president of the Sports Analytics Club and a member of Wake Radio. In his free time, you can find him following all levels of professional sports and supporting his favorite teams — the Celtics, Jets, Yankees and Islanders.

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