Virginia-Wake Forest Preview
Double-digit wins have been absent for Virginia since its ACC opener, but there's a good chance of its next opponent loosening those reins.
Wake Forest enters Tuesday night's meeting in Winston-Salem having lost its last three games by wide margins, but even those are made to look reasonable when compared to the last contest between the Cavaliers and Demon Deacons.
No. 11 Virginia (15-4, 4-3) has won the last three meetings, but a 70-34 victory in Winston-Salem on Feb. 25 was in its own category. The Demon Deacons made 12 field goals, shooting 21.8 percent and going 4 of 22 from 3-point range for one of their worst offensive games in school history.
Anthony Gill averaged 15.0 points in the two meetings last season and also had 16 on 7-of-11 shooting in Virginia's 73-65 home win over Syracuse on Sunday. Malcolm Brogdon had 21 and London Perrantes made 4 of 8 from 3-point range on his way to 16 points as the Cavaliers shot 56.8 percent.
The backcourt duo of Brogdon and Perrantes continues to flourish. Brogdon leads the team with 17.0 points per game, which is up from 14.0 last season as he's on pace for the best shooting season of his career. Perrantes is shooting 54.9 percent from long range, bumping his 6.4-point scoring average from last season to 11.9. He's averaged 14.8 in his last six.
"It's evolved as much, I think, as chemistry between two players can," Brogdon told the school's official website.
Syracuse was able to keep it close by hitting 13 of 30 from 3-point range, but Virginia coach Tony Bennett wasn't necessarily faulting his team's perimeter defense.
"If guys are hitting tough, contested deep 3s, sometimes you have to take your hat off to them," Bennett said.
Even so, it might be part of the reason the Cavaliers have had tight games lately. They opened conference play with a 77-66 home win over Notre Dame and limited it to 7 of 22 from long range as part of an opponent 3-point percentage at 32.9 over their 12-1 start. Since, Virginia is 3-3 and teams are making 41.3.
All of those losses have come on the road, and Virginia is in danger of its first four-game road skid since 2012-13.
For Wake Forest (10-9, 1-6), this is the latest in a stretch of difficult games as part of one of the nation's most demanding schedules. It's the school's third straight top-15 opponent and part of a four-game stretch against ranked teams. The Demon Deacons have already played seven ranked foes with a Nov. 23 win over then-No. 13 Indiana as their only victory. They last played more than eight ranked teams in a season in 2005-06.
Saturday's 77-63 loss to No. 15 Miami followed Wednesday's 83-68 defeat at No. 2 North Carolina. Wake has dropped seven of nine and is in danger of losing five straight for the first time since a seven-game slide in 2013-14.
It's dropped its last three games by an average of 19.0 points while shooting 37.9 percent and 17.9 from 3-point range.
"We have to be much better to win," coach Danny Manning said. "We know that the league that we play in, night in and night out, it's going to be a beast."
Manning could use more out of Codi Miller-McIntyre. The senior guard, who missed the first eight games with a broken foot after leading Wake with 14.5 points per game last season, was held scoreless against Miami and is averaging 4.0 points on 4-of-18 shooting in the last three. His scoring average has dipped to 7.8.
Top scorer Devin Thomas has been limited to 12.7 points on 46.9 percent in his last three games, which is down from 16.9 and 58.5 in his first 16.