Wake Forest didn’t have a great showing its last time out but still managed to beat one of the ACC’s worst teams. It probably won’t be as lucky with a sub-par performance against a Maryland team making a late push for an NCAA tournament bid.
In their first meeting of the season, the 10th-ranked Demon Deacons look to avoid losing their fifth straight to the Terrapins on Tuesday night in College Park.
Led by sophomores Jeff Teague and James Johnson, Wake Forest (22-5, 9-5 ACC) boasts the fifth-best scoring offense in the nation (82.1), but each struggled to get on track in Saturday’s 70-60 win over Virginia.
Johnson had eight points on 4-of-9 shooting and eight rebounds after averaging 26.0 points on 73.3 percent shooting and 13.3 boards in his previous three games
Teague scored just 12 - 7.7 below his average - but hit a crucial 3-pointer with 2:11 left after the Cavaliers had pulled within 56-53.
“If we can pull those games out, like we did today, I think it says a lot for us,” Wake coach Dino Gaudio said. “It shows our character, which we know we have. It shows our resiliency.”
The Demon Deacons, tied for third in the ACC with No. 24 Florida State, have won five of seven after dropping three of four. They close the regular season at home against Clemson on Sunday.
Wake shot poorly against Virginia’s zone defense, connecting on 43.1 percent after averaging 86.3 points on 54.5 percent shooting in its previous six games. The Demon Deacons managed to dominate the boards, though, outrebounding the Cavaliers 42-28.
Wake, second in the ACC in rebounding (40.8), has outrebounded each of its last five opponents.
Maryland (18-10, 7-7), meanwhile, had a season-low 24 rebounds in Sunday’s 71-60 win over North Carolina State and has been outrebounded in each of its last four games.
The Terrapins have won four of six, however, and are suddenly back in the NCAA tournament picture after losing five of their previous seven.
A win over the Demon Deacons would likely get them closer to a bid and they’ve had little trouble beating Wake lately.
Maryland has won four straight over the Demon Deacons since an 81-66 loss on Jan. 11, 2005. The Terps have also won the last two home meetings and seven of the last eight in Maryland.
As freshmen last season, Teague averaged 9.5 points on 7-of-23 shooting in two games against Maryland, while Johnson averaged 19.5 points and 11.5 rebounds.
They haven’t met since Greivis Vasquez led the Terrapins with 24 points and eight assists in a 74-70 win at Wake on Feb. 28, 2008.
Vasquez has been instrumental to Maryland’s late-season run and had another stellar performance Sunday.
After scoring just 10 points and being limited by foul trouble in Wednesday’s 78-67 loss to seventh-ranked Duke, Vasquez scored 21 of his 33 points in the second half against the Wolfpack. It was his second 30-point outing in three games. He had 35 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in last weekend’s 88-85 overtime upset over then-No. 3 North Carolina.
“I’m trying to take my game to a different level,” said Vasquez, who averaged 23.0 points on 54.8 percent shooting and 8.0 assists against Wake last season. “I’m just trying to lead these guys to something special. I think we have a tough team that can make it to the NCAAs.”
Maryland, tied for seventh with Virginia Tech, closes the regular season Saturday at rival Virginia.