Brownell's club would love to win two conference games in a row at some point this year, and a home game against Wake Forest (11-9, 2-4) gives the Tigers the opportunity to do just that. Wake was absolutely putrid last year, going just 1-15 in the ACC, but 2nd-year coach Jeff Bzdelik's squad is much more competitive this year. The Deacons knocked off Virginia Tech at home to start the conference season, and also won at BC by 15. But they lost road games at Maryland and Duke, and got blown out at home by NC State.
The Deacons are led on offense by sophomore Travis McKie and junior CJ Harris (17.3 ppg). Harris (17.3 ppg) is Wake's best jumpshooter; Wake's shining moment this year came against VT, when Harris hit a pair of 3s in the final minute to give Wake a 3-point victory. Tony Chennault plays point for the Deacs and leads the team with 2.9 apg. The sophomore can shoot (10.6ppg), and has also shown the ability to split defenders in the lane.
McKie is Wake's best in the frontcourt, leading the Deacons with 6.7 rpg. McKie is one of the team's leading scorers (17.2 ppg), but is coming off of a game against Florida State that saw him foul out after going 1 of 13 from the field (he looked especially horrendous from beyond the arc, where he went 0 of 4 with 2 airballs).
The frontcourt also features a versatile senior forward in Nikita Mescheriakov, whose size (6-8, 220) gives him the ability to work the ball inside, but the transfer from Georgetown also has the ability to shoot the 3 and drive the lane. Ty Walker rounds out the starting 5 for the Deacs. The senior doesn't do much on offense, but he's a great defender, and is widely considered to be Wake's best shot blocker since Tim Duncan. Walker (2.9 pbg) had 4 blocks against FSU in the 1st half alone before leaving the game with a concussion (took an elbow to the face).
Wake Forest's Projected Starting Lineup:
#30-sophomore F-Travis McKie (6-7, 210)
#11-junior G-CJ Harris (6-3, 190)
#1-sophomore-PG-Tony Chennault (6-2, 195)
#25-senior-F-Nikita Mescheriakov (6-8, 220)
#40-senior-C-Ty Walker (7-0, 230)
Also watch out for:
33-sophomore-C-Carson Desrosiers (7-0, 240)
10-freshman-G-Chase Fischer (6-3, 180)
I thought about including Clemson's starting lineup here too, but then I realized that I really don't know who's gonna start for us on Saturday. Andre and Tanner are the only 2 guys that I'm absolutely sure of. Milton will probably get the start too, but only probably. As for the 5 spot, Brownell said after the GT game that he was not yet sure which guy (Bobo or Book) would get the start, and that it would probably depend on who had the better week at practice. The 3's a toss up too. Could be B-Nice. Could be Rod. Could be Sapp. Who knows.
Regardless of who we see start at the 5, it would be nice to see Bobo continue to improve. He's looked a hell of a lot better in the last few games, and has finally figured out how to use his size to his advantage, but he still has plenty of room for improvement. He's got to cut down on the turnovers and do a better job of keeping a firm grip on the ball. And hopefully Devin shows up too, but I'm not hoping for much. At the very least, it would be nice to not see any missed dunks from him on Saturday.
As for the other guys, same keys as always. Andre, shoot the ball well, preferably like you did last weekend. Tanner, stop turning it over. Milton, it's all mental. Just play with confidence and you'll be fine.
What happens Saturday? Wake is much improved from last year, but not they're not good enough to beat the Tigers on the road (although when we play in Winston-Salem just 14 days later, the story might be different). Andre Young continues his hot streak, Devin finally manages to not screw up any of his dunks (but doesn't do much else), and Bobo scores in double figures. Wake keeps it close for 30 minutes, but Tigers roll in the end.
The game will tip at noon and will be televised by the ACC Network (ABC in the Upstate).