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November 14, 2008Wake Forest opened its season in style, defeating the N.C. Central Eagles 94-48 at the Joel Coliseum.
It was the beginning of Wake Forest's 103rd season of basketball, and the 21-ranked Demon Deacons are in the preseason top 25 for the first time since the 2005-06 season. The win was Wake's 15th consecutive season opening victory, dating back to 1994-95.
Last season N.C. Central, who was playing their first ever season in Division I, lost to Wake Forest 75-58. Tonight Wake had a much more impressive victory, shooting 60% from the field while holding Central to 27%, forcing 22 turnovers, and outrebounding them 45-34.
Freshman Al-Farouq Aminu led the way with 21 points and earned a double-double with 10 rebounds. James Johnson also had a double-double, with 18 points and 10 boards. Jeff Teague led the team with 6 assists and 3 steals, while also scoring 14 points. Other players in double figures included Chas McFarland with 12 and Tony Woods with 12.
Wake Forest jumped out to a quick lead and never looked back. Halfway through the first half the margin was already 16 points at 24-8, and holding Central to 1-16 shooting. At the end of the half the Demon Deacons held a 46-22 lead, and despite the wide margin managed to maintain focus and continue expanding the lead in the second half. Coach Dino Guadio had been preaching defense throughout the preseason, and was very happy to see the team keep up the effort even when the game no longer appeared to be in question. He was, however, not happy with their boxing out on the defensive end.
Gaudio spread playing time around liberally, with nine players playing 15 or more minutes. With Ishmael Smith still sitting out (he will have another x-ray on Tuesday to determine whether or not he is fit to play), Teague started at the point, with L.D. Williams at the two, Johnson and Aminu at forwards, and McFarland at center. He also experimented with several different lineups, including one that had Teague at point, Johnson at the two, Aminu at the three, and two centers down low.
Although it wasn't perfect, everyone seemed happy with the start. The team chemistry is already looking good, and both coaches and players seem encouraged by the direction the team is headed.