Don’t look now, but the Jackets have won five of their last six games after opening the season with losses to Georgia State and Mercer. That stretch has included wins over both Kentucky and North Carolina. The Jackets attention now turns towards Wake Forest, who comes to Atlanta for a 6:00 PM ET tipoff on Sunday.
The Jackets sit at 5-3 on the season and 1-1 in ACC play and are coming off their best win of the season after defeating North Carolina 72-67 on Wednesday. That game was arguably the best performance of the year by Tech’s veteran backcourt, who had high expectations coming into the season. Mike Devoe and Jose Alvarado both scored 20 points on a combined 15-21 shooting from the field.
Wake Forest comes into this matchup having only played 3 games so far this season. While the Demon Deacons are 3-0, all three games could be considered cupcake opponents. They started their season off with a 111-51 win against 0-5 Delaware State, a team whom the Jackets also played and defeated by a score of 97-69. Wake followed that game up with a 71-60 win against 2-8 Longwood, out of the Big South conference. Following the Longwood game, Wake had games against Troy, Presbyterian, UVA, VMI, and Syracuse all cancelled/postponed due to Coronavirus related issues. This last Thursday, Wake finally returned to the court after a 34 day absence to take on Division II Catawba College. Shaking off some rust, the Demon Deacons came out on top by a score of 70-62.
Wake Forest sports a new face on the sideline this season, moving on from head coach Danny Manning after six seasons in Winston-Salem. In his place enters Steve Forbes, who comes to Wake Forest after a successful tenure at East Tennessee State, in which he went 260-77, including a 30-4 record last season.
The sideline isn’t the only place where Wake Forest sports new faces from a season ago. They also lost their four leading scorers and leading pair of rebounders from last year. Leading scorer Brandon Childress graduated while Chaundee Brown and Olivier Sarr both transferred. Also gone are Sharone Wright Jr., Torry Johnson, Andrien White, and Michael Wynn.
The Demon Deacons top returning player is Isaiah Mucius, who averaged 7.3 points a season ago. Another key returning contributor is Ismael Massoud who shot 40% from behind the arc as a freshman last season. New to Wake Forest is transfer Jalen Johnson from Tennessee and transfer Ian DuBose who averaged 19 points and 7.3 rebounds per game at Houston Baptist.
Wake Forest is in rebuilding mode and is expected to finish at the bottom of the ACC this season. Add on to that the large amount of time they have had off and there is no reason Tech should lose this game. They will need to come out focused to avoid a letdown after their big win against the Tar Heels.