The Wolfpack continued its habit of poor starts, but in its first taste of ACC the Pack found out it can't always rely on second-half comebacks. Wake Forest had a counter-punch for every run, handing the Pack a loss in its first ACC game of the year 67-59 at Joel Coliseum.
The road had been kind to the Pack (8-2, 0-1 ACC) coming into Sunday, and even with the loss the team drops to just 4-1 away from Raleigh this season. The Pack faces another tough road challenge later this week when it travels to Arizona for its third true road game of the season and will also travel to Greensboro to take on UNC Greensboro later in the month.
Sidney Lowe's team trailed by nine at the break and made a brief run to cut the lead to four points early in the second half. But the Deacons countered with a quick run to put the Pack back behind by double digits. Javi Gonzalez gave his best attempt at a one-man comeback, scoring 13 straight points during a stretch late in the second half to get the game back under 10 points.
Gonzalez led the Pack with 18 points and also grabbed eight rebounds in a losing effort. Tracy Smith finished 11 points and 10 rebounds, but the big man also fouled out with 5:28 remaining in the game and had trouble getting open against a bigger more athletic Wake Forest team. Scott Wood was the only other Pack player in double figures, scoring 11 points while Dennis Horner added eight.
The Pack managed to hang with the Deacons for the first few minutes of the game with a Julius Mays 3-pointer making it 11-11 with around 15 minutes left in the half. From there, the wheels came off for the Pack. The next time the Wolfpack scored a field goal there were six minutes left in the half and the Pack found itself on the wrong side of a 19-4 run that put the visitors down by double-digits. The Pack made a small comeback but still found itself trailing 35-26 going into the locker room.
For the half, the Pack shot a paltry 34 percent from the floor and 18 percent from behind the arc while Wake shot 52 percent and 33 percent respectively. Smith led the team with six points while Ishmael Smith led the Deacons with eight. Both teams were terrible from the charity stripe, combining to go 5-for-14 in the first 20 minutes. Al-Farouq Aminu, one of Wake's leading scorers, was in foul trouble for all of the first half but his absence was balanced out by that of Smith who also played just nine minutes in the half because of fouls.
But the Pack wasn't out of it yet, as the team made a run coming out of the gates in the second half to chip into Wake lead. Wood and Horner both sank 3-pointers as the Pack pulled within four points with 15 minutes remaining. But the Deacons responded with a quick 6-0 run punctuated by an Aminu dunk to make it a 48-38 game.