"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

Miller, Sallis lead men’s basketball to bounce-back win

Dynamic duo combine for 49 points to take down Tigers, 71-61
Junior guard Hunter Sallis (No. 23) drives into the lane against a Towson defender. Sallis had 24 points en route to a 71-61 win (Courtesy of Wake Forest Athletics).

If there was one way to represent Wake Forest’s 71-61 win over Towson (2-4), it would be with a simple phrase: “The Changing of the Guards.”

Each of the first four games of the season has been led in part due to outstanding production from the guard position. In the opener against Elon, Cameron Hildreth scored 33 points. Against the Towson Tigers, Wake Forest (2-3) used dual-wield daggers: Kevin “Boopie” Miller and Hunter Sallis.

It’s no secret that guard play has become a strength of Head Coach Steve Forbes’ offense, with consecutive AP ACC Player of the Year awards in Alondes Williams and Tyree Appleby. Now, both transfers fit that mold, with Miller (25 PTS, 3 STL, 11-17 FG) and Sallis (24 PTS, 4 REB, 4-6 3PT) each notching career highs on Friday night.

“Hunter [Sallis] and Boopie [Miller] both had really good games,” Forbes said.

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The game started off with both teams trading buckets back and forth. Sallis opened up scoring with a 3-pointer after Andrew Carr (6 PTS, 8 REB) got an offensive rebound on his own miss, but then Towson scored at the other end of the court. 

No team could gain any ground until the Tigers went on an 8-0 run after the first media timeout. As the run continued, defensive lapses seemed to haunt the Demon Deacons, letting the Tigers score twice on baseline-out-of-bounds plays en route to a 18-11 lead.

The Demon Deacons struggled to keep the Tigers off of the offensive boards. With Wake Forest’s Matthew Marsh and Efton Reid still absent, the Tigers were able to exploit mismatches, grabbing 22 offensive rebounds and 18 second-chance points.

“Sometimes their best offense was to miss and go get it,” Forbes said. “They did a great job of wedging underneath the basket; their guards flew in there and kept a lot of balls alive.”

The Demon Deacons would later cut into the seven-point deficit after a handful of baskets from Hildreth, putting the Demon Deacons in a position to pounce. With three minutes on the clock, Forbes’ squad did just that, hitting three consecutive 3-pointers to counter the Tigers with a 9-0 run of their own, putting themselves up by two going into halftime.

After the half, the game became the Miller and Sallis show. Combining for 32 of the Demon Deacons’ 36 second-half points, the two carried the team on the offensive end while the rest of the squad shored up on defense. 

The Demon Deacons got spectacular play from Miller and Sallis in the start of the second half, as the latter made highlight play after highlight play, including a steal that turned into a ferocious one-handed jam on the offensive end. 

Towson, however, never let the Demon Deacons get out to a comfortable distance. After a Tyler Tejada and-one and a series of Messiah Jones baskets, the Tigers found themselves in the midst of a comeback, tied with the Demon Deacons with just under five minutes to play.

From then on, however, it was all Demon Deacons. After a 30-second timeout, Forbes’ squad hardened up on the defensive end, only allowing Towson to score one basket for the remainder of the game.

“We won the game playing defense,” Forbes said. “We got those two kills back-to-back at the 4:49 mark, and that was really important.”

Defensive kills represent three straight stops on the defensive end, and Forbes took pride in his team having six kills altogether.

Meanwhile, those defensive stops turned into points on the other end. That was especially the case for Miller, who went on an individual 8-0 run and turned defensive stops into highlight-reel plays, including a strip of the Tigers’ Tejada and a lay-in finish on the other end.

Miller’s run, combined with efficiency from the free-throw line, kept the Tigers at a comfortable distance for the remainder of the game, and the Demon Deacons clinched their first win of the Shriners Children’s Charleston Classic.

Overall, the game acted as a bounce-back for Forbes’ squad. 

“I am really proud of our team — that was a really gritty win,” Forbes said. “We needed that win.”

The Demon Deacons face Charleston Southern this Friday, Nov. 24, at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

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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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