Wake Forest seeks first top-five upset since 2014 vs. No. 3 Tennessee
The last time Wake Forest upset a team ranked in the top five was five seasons ago, on March 5, 2014, when the Deacons knocked off fourth-ranked Duke 82-72.
They have the opportunity to end a 0-9 stretch against top-five teams when they play Saturday at No. 3 Tennessee, which is 9-1 with its only loss coming in overtime to No. 1 Kansas. The Vols have also defeated then-No. 1 Gonzaga.
Wake Forest (7-3) is coming off a 67-63 win on Monday over against Davidson in Winston-Salem, N.C. Davidson played without one of its best player, Kellan Grady, who is injured, but the Deacons are still confident heading into Saturday's game at Knoxville, Tenn., because they played one of their best games of the season, especially on defense.
"I told you we've been working on defensive stuff all year, we've just gotta keep improving," junior point guard Brandon Childress said after limiting Davidson to 37.0 percent shooting from the field, including 30.8 percent from 3-point range.
Tennessee, which ranks No. 18 nationally averaging 84.9 points per game, has scored at least 76 points in nine of its 10 games. The Vols are coming off an 83-70 win over Samford on Wednesday in Knoxville behind guard Jordan Bone's career-high 24 points and 11 assists (the first time in seven seasons a Tennessee player had at least 11 assists).
The Volunteers attacked the inside, scoring a season-high 52 points in the paint. Wing player Yves Pons had a career-high nine boards and two rim-rattling dunks. The Vols totaled six dunks in the game.
Tennessee had 22 assists for its 33 made field goals.
"We don't mind shooting (the 3-pointer), but that's what we want to use to break the game open, we need to establish ourselves inside, and that's what important," Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. "We knew we wanted to try to get to their bench and put fouls on their interior defense."
Wake Forest is striving for efficiency on offense as well. The Deacons are 3-0 when accumulating more assists than turnovers. Those games have been against Cal State Fullerton (13 assists, 10 turnovers), Charlotte (11 and 8) and Davidson (13 and 10).
"We turned the ball over in some tough situations, but for the most part, to have 10 for the game, we're happy with that," Wake Forest coach Danny Manning said beating Davidson.
Tennessee has more of an inside presence. Against Samford, wing player Admiral Schofield totaled 18 points, seven rebounds and two assists. Forward Grant Williams added 16 points, five boards and two assists.
Williams, a junior, was the SEC Player of the Year last season. He leads the Vols with 19.4 points and 8.3 rebounds per game and is second with 4.4 assists per game.
Schofield is averaging 22 points per game, including a 30-point showing against Gonzaga. After hitting one 3-pointer in each of the first three games, Schofield has connected on 22 of 45 3-pointers in the last seven games.
Last season, Tennessee won 79-60 at Wake Forest. The Vols ended the game on a 13-0 run in the final 4:30, jump-started by two 3-pointers from Jordan Bowden and another from Schofield.
Updated December 21, 2018