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Breakdown: Virginia, Wake Forest meet in key ACC basketball matchup

Reece Beekman
Reece Beekman drives the lane in UVA’s win over Wake Forest last week. Photo courtesy Atlantic Coast Conference.

Wake Forest has lost three of its last five after getting out to an 11-1 start that, when you look at it, was at least a little bit the result of some feasting on cream puffs.

Yeah, there was a 19-point win at Virginia Tech in early December in the mix, but the Hokies are now sitting at 0-4 in the ACC, so the luster of that one has worn off a bit.

The most recent setback for the Demon Deacons was a 76-64 home loss to Duke on Wednesday, in a game that really wasn’t that close in the final 20 minutes – the Blue Devils led by as many as 20, with 6:46 to go, ahead of several minutes of garbage time.

What that means, from a game theory perspective, is Saturday’s matchup with Virginia at JPJ is sorta, kinda a must-win, for a team that doesn’t want to fall below .500 in conference play, and continue a downhill trend.

Wake Forest rotation

The offense keys around 6’5” Oklahoma transfer Alondes Williams (20.7 ppg, 6.7 rebounds/g, 5.0 assists/g, 54.8% FG, 33.3% 3FG).

Williams, a point guard, puts up a staggering 14.1 shots per game, and he can fill it up – he had 25 in the loss to Duke, 34 and 36 in wins over Charlotte and VMI, and he’s been in double-digits every time out this season.

He gets his points in a variety of ways – lane cuts (1.556 points per possession, per Synergy Sports data), dribble handoffs (1.5 PPP), offensive rebounds (1.353 PPP), transition (1.229 PPP), spot-ups (1.027 PPP), isolation (.939 PPP), post-ups (.938 PPP), pick-and-rolls (.824 PPP).

Wake has two other guys averaging in double-figures in scoring – 6’8” power forward Jake LaRavia (14.8 ppg, 6.1 rebounds/g, 60.0% FG, 38.2% 3FG) and 6’1” shooting guard Daivien Williamson (12.5 ppg, 42.3% FG, 36.4% 3FG).

Deacs coach Steve Forbes goes big – the other two starters are 6’8” small forward Isaiah Mucius (9.9 ppg, 40.7% FG, 38.0% 3FG) and 7’0” center Dallas Walton (7.9 ppg, 5.4 rebounds/g, 48.1% FG, 21.4% 3FG).

The rotation goes eight-deep, with the bench guys being 6’10” post Kadim Sy (7.1 ppg, 4.4 rebounds/g, 53.3% FG, 32.3% 3FG), 6’4” guard Cameron Hildreth (4.7 ppg, 3.8 rebounds/g, 43.3% FG, 21.7% 3FG) and 6’3” guard Carter Whitt (2.5 ppg, 28.3% FG, 20.6% 3FG).


Almost certainly, 6’3” UVA point guard Reece Beekman (7.6 ppg, 4.4 assists/g, 41.3% FG, 26.7% 3FG) gets the assignment on Williams.

Beekman (.654 PPP on defense) is Virginia’s best defender, but he’ll obviously have his hands full.

Williams, on the defensive end, is probably the guy that you attack. Synergy has him allowing .855 points per possession, rating as “average.”

Beekman has found a nice niche in the UVA mover-blocker of late, averaging 10.8 points per game on 56.1 percent shooting, working his way into the lane off screens and off the dribble as a bit of an unconventional two guard.

Virginia will want to see him getting stops on defense, and creating on offense.

Williamson (.593 PPP) is Wake’s best backcourt defender. Expect him to match up with Kihei Clark (9.6 ppg, 3.9 assists/g, 40.5% FG, 40.7% 3FG).

Virginia’s leading scorer, Jayden Gardner (14.3 ppg, 7.4 rebounds/g, 55.2% FG) had an off-night in UVA’s 54-52 win over Virginia Tech on Wednesday, scoring just four points on 2-of-10 shooting with four turnovers.

Wake’s size across the front line – 6’8”, 6’8” and 7’0” in the starting lineup, with Sy at 6’10” off the bench – should give him fits.

You may see UVA coach Tony Bennett go more with 6’11” Kadin Shedrick (5.9 ppg, 5.3 rebounds/g, 56.9% FG) and 7’1” Francisco Caffaro (4.0 ppg, 3.3 rebounds/g, 56.9% FG) together at the four and five to boost the defense if Gardner can’t get things going on the offensive end.

The ‘Hoos will need a big game from 6’4” guard Armaan Franklin (12.2 ppg, 41.7% FG, 22.4% 3FG), who has been solid of late (13.7 ppg, 45.6% FG in his last six games).

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press