Austin Arians grabbed a Dennis Smith missed jumper and passed it ahead to Keyshawn Woods. Woods found a streaking John Collins in transition, who slammed home an uncontested dunk to open up the game.
It was clearly going to be an easy afternoon for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. They jumped out to to an early lead as Collins scoring their first six points. They never looked back and never relinquished the lead with great team defense and sharp 3-point scoring, culminating in an 88-58 home victory over the in-state rival North Carolina State Wolfpack.
It was Wake Forest’s largest margin of victory over NC State since another 30-point win in 1999.
Team defense proved to be the difference in the first half for the Demon Deacons. They stopped the Wolfpack on 18 of their first 23 possessions and held Smith, Terry Henderson and Maverick Rowan to a combined four points in the first half. All three starters played over 15 minutes each in the half.
“We competed on the defensive end,” Wake coach Danny Manning said. “I think this was the first we feel like we guarded the way we were capable of.”
Wake Forest took a 44-24 lead into the second half and kept their feet to the pedal due to terrific shooting from the 3-point line. Woods led the way with 11 second-half points, nine of which came on three straight uncontested 3-pointers in a 91 second span that gave Wake Forest its largest lead of the game.
“More than anything my teammates were just finding me and I was just knocking down the shots,” Woods said. “The bucket looked real nice to me tonight from beyond the arc.”
Collins finished the day with 23 points and pushed his consecutive 20-point game streak up to eight. Everything seemed to come easy to him today in yet another impressive performance. ACC coaches and NBA scouts are most certainly noticing his abilities.
NC State coach Mark Gottfried praised Collins.
“He certainly has become one of the better interior guys in the country,” he said.
Wake Forest travels to Clemson on Valentine’s Day looking for revenge after blowing a double-digit lead to the Tigers on New Year’s Eve. Clemson’s defense should be much better than NC State’s. The Demon Deacons need to be ready.