The Wake Forest Demon Deacons haven’t had much to be happy about on the 2012-13 season. That changed Tuesday night.
Hosting the No. 18 North Carolina State Wolfpack, Wake Forest came into Tuesday’s contest at 9-8, having lost their last two ACC match-ups on the road to Clemson and Virginia Tech. The Demon Deacons were able to end that streak, defeating NC State 86-84.
Considering Wake Forest lost their last two home games against NC State by a combined 61 points, it didn’t matter how much they won this one by, or even what they had to do to win.
Although, the 25 point, 14 rebound break-out performance from freshman Devin Thomas was definitely the most impressive aspect of the night.
“He just plays with unbelievable passion, energy and fearlessness so I’m not surprised by the game he played,” said Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik about his talented freshman. Not only did Thomas achieve career-bests in scoring and rebounding, but he added 4 assists, 4 blocks, and 3 steals, in what was an incredibly even game, which was ultimately dictated by spurts of excellence.
Coming into the second half down 47-35, Wake Forest shot almost 60 percent from the field over the final 20 minutes of the game, and went up by as many as 10 points with just under four minutes left in regulation. Wolfpack stars C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown gave their all to cut the lead back down to one at about the one minute mark, but Travis McKie and C.J. Harris came up big in the final minute to finish the effort given by their younger teammates.
“As a young player he (Thomas) just needed to get his confidence, as all young players do, and I thought they all grew up in a big way today,” said a proud Bzdelik, who watched his young team celebrate as the fans rushed the court following the big win.
As is the challenge with all young teams, the effort and confidence needs to continue to prevail for Wake, and with Harris and McKie as the team’s leaders, young players like Thomas, Cody Miller-McIntyre and Arnaud Adala Moto should be able to continue to grow.
We’ll see how much they’ve really grown when they head to Cameron Indoor Stadium to take on No. 1 Duke next Wednesday.