Besides having history on its side, Wake Forest boasts one of its most talented teams in years when it hosts Bucknell on Saturday night.
While the No. 15 Demon Deacons (7-0) look to improve upon their best start since opening 11-0 in 2003-04, the Bison seek their first victory over an ACC team in 47 years. Bucknell (1-5) has never won in four all-time meetings with Wake Forest and is 1-23 against the ACC.
In Wednesday night’s 83-58 victory over Indiana in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, Demon Deacons sophomore James Johnson hit 8-of-10 shots and scored 15 of his team-high 21 points in the first half as the Hoosiers tried to limit Wake leading scorer Jeff Teague.
“It all revolved around Jeff, and yet he still had a great game - moved the ball, wasn’t selfish at all, even though he was playing a big-time team, a hometown team,” Johnson said of the Indianapolis native who had five assists. “That’s what we need out of him - we don’t need a selfish player. We just need a mature player, and Jeff is that.”
Teague, averaging 19.9 points, hit 5-of-9 shots and scored 13 points as the Demon Deacons hit a season-best 61.5 percent from the field.
L.D. Williams added 16 points and Al-Farouq Aminu had 13 points, nine rebounds and five blocks for Wake Forest, which had its best shooting performance since hitting 64.2 percent in a 114-112 double-overtime win over Georgia Tech on March 8, 2007.
“We’ve got so many good players, and they’re (playing that defense) on me?” said Teague, who had a team-high 16 points in a 72-56 win over Bucknell on Dec. 16, 2007. “I told L.D., Farouq and James, ‘It’s your time to shine. I don’t know why they’re box-and-one-ing, but you all are about to kill them.’”
All the news for the Demon Deacons wasn’t good, though, as they committed a season-high 24 turnovers and had just 34 rebounds. They grabbed a season-high 62 boards three nights earlier in an 87-74 win over Baylor.
“I thought we played fast, but we didn’t play efficient with our turnovers,” Wake Forest coach Dino Gaudio said. “We had so many squandered opportunities where we might have picked up a steal near midcourt. Instead of just gathering ourselves and throwing a pass - we would have had a dunk at the other end. We’ve got to do what the game tells us to do. If it says you’re supposed to pass, pass. If you’re supposed to shoot, shoot.”
While the Demon Deacons are outscoring their opponents by more than 22 per game, Bucknell, which hasn’t defeated an ACC opponent since 1961 against Virginia, has dropped its last four games by an average of just 5.0 points.
In their 68-65 loss to La Salle on Tuesday, the Bison (1-5) committed a season-low 10 turnovers. They’ve averaged just 11.8 turnovers in their last four games, but face a Wake Forest team that has forced 22-plus turnovers five times this season.
Bison guard Justin Castleberry had 20 points and G.W. Boon added 14 on Tuesday, but Bucknell shot 36.6 percent from the field. The Demon Deacons are holding opponents to 34.8 percent - seventh in the nation.