Wake Forest has shown it can keep pace with one of the nation’s highest-scoring offenses.
It won’t have to do anything of the sort in its next game.
The No. 19 Demon Deacons host Winston-Salem State - the second-lowest scoring team in the NCAA - on Monday, in a meeting between schools just seven miles apart on a map but much further apart on the basketball court.
Wake Forest (2-0) is coming off one of the highest-scoring games in school history - a 120-88 rout of North Carolina Wilmington last Wednesday. The Seahawks entered having scored more than 100 points in each of their first two games, but the Deacons had little trouble matching them, and came within three points of their all-time scoring record.
“I’m comfortable with us pushing it up like that, no question,” Wake Forest coach Dino Gaudio said. “We want to just keep pushing the ball. We’ve got finishers. … We want to push and keep our foot on the accelerator.”
Jeff Teague scored a career-high 31 points and added five steals while James Johnson had 25 points and nine rebounds. It was a truly dominant effort by Wake Forest, which scored 41 points off 24 turnovers, shot 56.6 percent and outrebounded Wilmington 52-30.
“We had to establish the game quick and get out and jump on them real fast,” junior guard L.D. Williams said. “It made me happy to see that we didn’t give into the pressure and I think it showed a lot of maturity.”
Wake Forest had opened the season with a 46-point win over North Carolina Central, shooting 59.7 percent in that victory.
The Demon Deacons are about to grow even stronger. Starting point guard Ishmael Smith, recovering from surgery to repair a broken foot suffered in September, could be ready to return as early as Monday. Smith averaged 8.6 points, 4.7 assists and 3.4 assists as a sophomore.
Teague has been starting in his place.
“I would love for (Smith) to play on Monday night, but we will see how he progresses,” Gaudio said.
The Deacons figure to have another big game against the Rams (0-2).
Winston-Salem State has struggled in the first two games of its season-opening five-game road trip, including a 69-44 loss to Eastern Kentucky last Tuesday. Jamal Durham and Paul Davis each scored 12 points to lead the Rams.
Winston-Salem State has shot 28.6 percent in its first two games and averaged 45.5 points - both averages are second-lowest in the nation. Durham is leading the Rams with 11.5 points - the only player to average in double figures - but he’s shooting just 26.9 percent from the floor.
This is the third straight season these schools are playing in what is billed as the “Twin City Shootout.” Wake Forest has won both previous meetings, including a 73-53 victory last season.