ACC Basketball: Wake Forest 75, UNC Greensboro 60
GREENSBORO ó Just about everybody got involved in Wake Forest’s block party, including tiny guard Ishmael Smith and, especially, leaper Al-Farouq Aminu.
Aminu had 23 points, 17 rebounds and six of the Demon Deacons’ school-record 16 blocked shots in a 75-60 victory against North Carolina-Greensboro on Monday night.
Ari Stewart and L.D. Williams had 11 points apiece for Wake Forest (9-2), which shot 44.6 percent, hit 37.5 percent of its 3-pointers and used a late 16-6 run to break open a surprisingly tight game and win its fifth straight.
The Demon Deacons’ bonanza of blocked shots also helped mask a rare rebounding deficit: the Spartans had 44 rebounds to Wake Forest’s 42, in part because those deflected were tougher to cleanly rebound.
“It’ll be interesting to see how many of (UNC Greensboro’s) second shots were off our blocks,” Wake Forest coach Dino Gaudio said.
Ben Stywall had 13 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Spartans (2-9), who shot a season-low 30 percent and lost their fifth straight, at least in part because they at times struggled to generate good looks against Wake Forest’s block-happy lineup.
The Demon Deacons’ record fell with 3:53 remaining when the 6-foot Smith swatted Kyle Randall’s jumper ó his fourth block of the game. That broke the previous mark of 14 set against Rhode Island in 1978.
“When their point guard’s going to block four shots, we’ve got a problem,” UNC-Greensboro coach Mike Dement said.
Aminu had his fourth 20-point game of the season, but his first since opening the year with three in a row. He has scored at least 17 points in three straight games, and has scored 23 in each of Wake Forest’s two wins at the Greensboro Coliseum ó where the ACC tournament will be held.
“I get a little goosebumps thinking about all the big games that happened in this gym,” Aminu said of an arena that’s also a regular in the NCAA tournament rotation. “We’re trying to make this gym almost like our home court. It’s right in our backyard, and we just want to play good here, in the tournament and all year.”
C.J. Harris had 10 points for sometimes-rusty Wake Forest, which hadn’t played since beating North Carolina State on Dec. 20. Still, the Demon Deacons led for all but about 8 minutes of this one and took the lead for good when Aminu stuck back his own miss with 51/2 minutes left in the first half to make it 21-20.
Against a pesky Spartans team, Wake Forest had trouble generating separation, taking its first double-figure lead with 111/2 minutes to play when Harris’ free throw pushed it to 51-41.