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Surging Wake Forest puts festive mood up against VMI

Sportsnaut
Mar 9, 2021; Greensboro, North Carolina, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons head coach Steve Forbes directs his team against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the first round of the 2021 ACC men's basketball tournament at Greensboro Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 9, 2021; Greensboro, North Carolina, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons head coach Steve Forbes directs his team against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the first round of the 2021 ACC men’s basketball tournament at Greensboro Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

When Wake Forest coach Steve Forbes came to the podium for his postgame press conference on Saturday night, he was dressed as Cousin Eddie from the classic holiday film, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

Wearing a fur-lined aviator hat with ear flaps and a necklace of Christmas bulbs, Forbes sipped Gatorade from a Marty Moose glass mug as he answered questions.

In his second year at Wake Forest (9-1), Forbes is having a blast. His reconfigured team already has more wins than last year as it prepares for Tuesday’s game against visiting Virginia Military Institute (7-4).

The difference-maker has been Alondes Williams, a grad transfer from Oklahoma who leads the Demon Deacons in points (18.2), rebounds (6.6) and assists (4.9) per game.

In Saturday’s 79-53 win over USC Upstate, Williams notched the program’s first triple-double since Tim Duncan did it 25 years ago. Williams had 16 points, 14 boards and 10 assists.

“He’s been fabulous and more importantly he’s been a fabulous teammate,” Forbes said. “I was imploring our guys, when he has the ball in transition, to run, run, because he’s looking for you. He’s not looking for himself. That’s a pretty rare quality for a player like that.”

Wake has other newcomers that have had an impact. Indiana State transfer Jake LaRavia (14.0 points, 5.7 rebounds) is hitting 50 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. Dallas Walton, a 7-foot transfer from Colorado, provides presence inside. Sharpshooter Daivien Williamson (14.6 points) is hitting 42.3 percent of his 3-point tries and 94.4 percent of his free throws.

VMI enters on a four-game winning streak after a 64-61 victory over Gardner-Webb as 6-11 Jake Stephens collected 28 points, 16 rebounds and six blocks to save the Keydets when they didn’t play their best game.

“I was proud we figured a way to win and hopefully that’s the hallmark of, somewhere in there, a good team when the execution wasn’t great,” said VMI coach Dan Earl.

VMI also will look to Kamdyn Curfman (17.6 points) and Sean Conway (10.5 points, 7.3 rebounds) in order to knock off Wake Forest.

–Field Level Media