Wake Forest has already rolled to victory against one in-state rival, but producing similar results versus another North Carolina foe might not be as easy.
The 20th-ranked Demon Deacons seek to open 2-0 for the 10th straight season when they host high-scoring UNC-Wilmington on Wednesday.
Wake Forest (1-0) went a middling 17-13 in 2007-08, but entered the new season with one of the nation’s top recruiting classes and the increased expectations that come with it.
The first-year players didn’t disappoint in their collegiate debuts. Atlantic Coast Conference preseason rookie of the year Al-Farouq Aminu had 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Tony Woods added 12 points as the Demon Deacons rolled to a 94-48 home win over North Carolina Central on Friday.
“(Aminu) showed you guys why he was ranked so high, and why he came with all the hype,” said sophomore Jeff Teague, who scored 14 points as Wake Forest won its 15th consecutive season opener.
Sophomore forward James Johnson had 18 points and 10 rebounds, while center Chas McFarland scored 12 for the Demon Deacons, who shot 59.7 percent (37-for-62) from the field after compiling an ACC-worst 43.3 percentage last season.
Wake Forest, which has opened with back-to-back wins every season since 1999-00, owned a 31-point lead before North Carolina Central made its second field goal.
“If we could bottle that and keep that intensity up for 40 (minutes), that would be outstanding,” Wake Forest coach Dino Gaudio said after his team beat its 45th consecutive non-conference home game against an in-state opponent.
That streak can be extended Wednesday, but UNC-Wilmington (2-0) could pose a stiffer challenge.
The Seahawks have exceeded 100 points and mounted furious comebacks in each of their first two games. They erased an 18-point deficit in Friday’s 108-101 overtime win over Appalachian State, then rallied from 16 points down to beat Troy 107-95 on Monday.
Chad Tomko scored a career-high 33 points while Dominique Lacy added 21 points and 12 rebounds Monday, when the Seahawks sank 16 3-pointers.
UNC-Wilmington now seeks its first 3-0 start since 2005-06, as it opens a five-game road trip. The Seahawks have are just 6-22 on the road over the last two seasons.
Wake Forest has won all 10 previous meetings between these schools, although the last six of those wins have come by an average margin of just 4.2 points. The Demon Deacons prevailed by the slimmest of margins in the most recent meeting, a 79-78 home victory on Nov. 12, 2001.
The Seahawks are 1-26 all-time versus ranked opponents, with the lone win coming in the first round of the 2002 NCAA tournament over then-No. 19 Southern California.