Arkansas will likely find a much better Wake Forest team in Winston-Salem, N.C., on Friday night than the one it buried by 30 points in Bud Walton Arena last season.
The Demon Deacons (5-2) already own wins against Indiana and UCLA and appear well on their way to zipping past the 13 wins they had last season in head coach Danny Manning’s first year at the helm.
Manning is anxious to continue finding out about his team with the 6 p.m. game against Razorbacks (3-3).
“I think we've gotten better across the board," Manning said. "I don't know what that's going to equate to when it's all said and done. But I do know we look better walking through the airport.
“…I want it all to be reflected that we're a better team. Realistically, what's going to happen? I don't know. But I do think that we are better than what we were last year at this point in time."
Manning returns four of his five starters and has a star in senior power forward Devin Thomas (6-9, 245), who is averaging 18.4 points and 11.3 rebounds.
Thomas had 23 points and 17 rebounds in his team’s 69-68 win at Rutgers on Monday.
He has added in a star freshman in 6-3 guard Bryant Crawford (14.3) and the Demon Deacons are enjoying success despite being without injured guard Codi Miller-McIntyre, who averaged a team-high 14.7 points last season.
Wake Forest also has two other players averaging double figures in 6-10 3-point shooting center Konstantinos Mitoglou (12.0, 7.7) and 6-2 sophomore guard Mitchell Wilbekin (10.4).
“It’s a good basketball team that is playing good basketball,” Anderson said of the Demon Deacons. “They have some seasoning.
“Devin Thomas averaging a double-double for their basketball team as well as the kid Bryant Crawford, a really good basketball player, so it’s a team that has some tremendous talent and good size.”
It will be the second ACC team that Arkansas has faced in as many weeks, having lost to Georgia Tech 83-73 in Brooklyn while being out-rebounded 50-26.
It is also a team that has been turnover-prone.
“Their strength is being able to shoot it and go get it,” Anderson said. “And we just played against an ACC team in Georgia Tech and that’s what they did. They shot it and went and got it off the board.
“So that is something that we have got to do a lot better job of. And hopefully we can create some tempo with our pressure defense.”
Wake Forest is opening a four-game home stand after playing three games in Maui and winning at Rutgers on Monday night.
“I didn’t do them any favors with the travel,’’ Manning said of his team. “I didn’t. You go play three games on the road, you come back here for two days and then you go on a road trip.
“Ideally that’s not the way you plan it. But in the big scheme of things for us, we think it helps us in ACC play.’’
F-Keaton Miles, 6-7, Sr., 4.8 pts., 4.0 rebs.
C-Moses Kingsley, 6-10, Jr., 16.7, 10. 2
G-Jabril Durham, 6-1, Sr., 6.5, 3.7
G-Anthlon Bell, 6-3, Sr., 18.0, 1.3
G-Jimmy Whitt, 6-4, Fr., 11.0, 2.7
WAKE FOREST (5-2)
F-Greg McClinton, 6-7, So., 4.6 pts., 4.3 rebs.
F-Devin Thomas, 6-9, Sr., 18.4, 11.3
C-Konstantinos Mitoglou, 6-10, So., 12.0, 7.7
G-Mitchell Wilbekin, 6-2, So., 10.4, 2.0
G-Bryant Crawford, 6-3, Fr., 14.3, 3.7