WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — A 17-0 first-half run by the Deacs was exactly the difference in a 91-74 win over Charlotte Tuesday night at Joel Coliseum.
A 3-pointer by Charlotte’s Braxton Ogbueze tied the game at 5-5 with 17:19 left in the first half, but then the Deacs took control.
The Deacs force six-straight empty trips by the 49ers, while Wake pounded the ball inside repeatedly to capitalize on their size and skill advantage in the post.
“After the four-minute mark, we did a much better job defensively,” Manning said. “The ball was moving (for Wake), but we guarded better in the first half.”
Six different Deacs scored in the 5:30 spurt that broke the game open for Wake Forest, while early foul trouble began to saddle the 49ers.
Sophomore forward John Collins stayed out of foul trouble for the Deacs, and dominated down low the entire game. He finished with a game-high 22 points and 15 rebounds.
“This is one of the first games in awhile where John has played defensively where he’s stayed out of harm’s way in the first half,” Manning said. “He did some really good things for us. He’s been active. He shot free throws well. He got some rebounds in traffic and was very efficient. If you look at his production per minute, he’s gotta rank fairly high among people in our league and in the country.”
Collins played just 21 minutes Tuesday and is averaging just 23.4 minutes a game this season.
“At the production level he’s putting out, 40 minutes,” Manning said when asked what the optimal amount of playing time would be for Collins. “I’m not going to play anybody 40 minutes, but for John we’d like for John to play upper-20s.”
Keyshawn Woods, playing against his former team, contributed 12 points, two assists and two rebounds for the Deacs.
“He’s a sixth starter for me,” Manning said about Woods. “That’s how I look at him. He comes in and is able to play 1-4. He’s got a good feel for the game. He plays starter minutes. He knows how we feel about him, and that he has to be ready at all times. We feel he can do a lot of different things to help our team have success.”
Wake held the 49ers to 33.3 percent field goal shooting in the first half, but Charlotte made 17-of-30 shots in the second 20 minutes.
“The second half was a completely different story,” Manning said. “They were able to execute their offense, attack the paint and they were able to win the second half. We have to have a better showing in the second half defensively.”
Bryant Crawford scored 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting, while adding three assists against one turnover. Dinos Mitoglou added 11 points while going a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line.
Wake returns to the road at UNC-Greensboro (7-2) Friday and then has the following week off for finals before facing No. 13 Xavier (7-1).