Wake Forest 83, HIgh Point 60
By Aaron Beard
WINSTON-SALEM ó Wake Forest spent the first half Wednesday night watching pesky High Point pick apart its defense with dribble drives and kickouts for open perimeter shots.
Once the Demon Deacons went against their helpside instincts, they were off and running to an easy win.
Al-Farouq Aminu had 22 points and 10 rebounds to help Wake Forest pull away early in the second half and beat High Point 83-60, a victory that ended up coming with a small dose of unexpected early-season adversity.
Ishmael Smith added 13 points for the Demon Deacons (3-0), who trailed almost the entire first half before finally pushing ahead by three at the break. But Wake Forest scored the first seven points after halftime to get some separation from the Panthers (1-1), then steadily increased the margin down the stretch.
Wake Forest shot 52 percent and led by as many as 27 points. Still, despite facing a team picked to finish sixth in the Big South Conference, the Demon Deacons trailed by nine midway through the first half and didn’t take their first lead until the final 2 minutes of the opening half.
In the second half, however, coach Dino Gaudio told his team to start being a little more selfish on defense ó as in, stay with the perimeter shooters even if a teammate was beaten on the drive.
“Coach had told us they were going to drive and kick,” freshman C.J. Harris said.
“They came out ready to play and had something to prove. Then in the second half, Coach got on us and told us to get back to the basics and not help so much. We had to stick to their shooters.”
Wake Forest’s decisive run began with defense, particularly by senior L.D. Williams against High Point’s Nick Barbour, who scored 38 points and went 10-for-11 from 3-point range in the season-opening win against UNC Pembroke. With Williams shadowing him most of the game, Barbour managed 15 points on 4-for-15 shooting and 3-for-8 on 3s.
“Every game we have, when we put on the screen their best player, that he did this or he did that, it’s (on) L.D.,” Gaudio said, “and he usually rises up to the challenge.”
But Williams wasn’t alone.
After allowing High Point to make 13 of 22 shots and 7 of 10 3-pointers to open the game, Wake Forest got more deflections and more hands in the faces of those outside shooters to hold the Panthers to 7-for-35 shooting (20 percent) the rest of the game.