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Unbeaten Wake Forest takes on La Salle in Jamaica

Oct 12, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, US; Wake Forest player Tyree Appleby during the ACC Tip Off media day in Charlotte, NC.  Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Wake Forest didn’t just cruise through its first three games. The Demon Deacons had to dig deep to stay undefeated.

So there are new lessons that Wake Forest can take into Friday’s game against La Salle as part of the Jamaica Classic in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

“We’re going down there to win,” Wake Forest coach Steve Forbes said. “We’re not going down there to be on vacation. We’re going there to play basketball.”

Wake Forest (3-0) opened with three home victories, capped by Tyree Appleby’s 3-pointer at the overtime buzzer for a 68-65 decision against Utah Valley State on Tuesday night.

“They showed some grittiness,” Forbes said. “Give credit where credit is due to our players for continually finding a way to win.”

La Salle (2-1) is in its first season under coach Fran Dunphy.

Senior Fousseyni Drame, a transfer from Saint Peter’s, matched a career high with 22 points earlier on Tuesday when the Explorers beat Division I newcomer Queens (N.C.).

Dunphy said he likes the interchangeable nature of his roster.

“It’s not analytics,” Dunphy said of decisions about playing roles. “It’s not scientific. It’s just gut reaction.”

The Explorers tend to do quite a bit of switching on defense. That might have helped in collecting 24 turnovers against the Royals.

“That creates some havoc out there,” Dunphy said.

While La Salle guards have been disruptive defensively, there could be different combinations called upon for the next game.

“Against Wake, they have some pretty big guys,” Dunphy said. “We can go pretty much 10 deep, so we’ll see how that goes.”

Wake Forest’s highlights have frequently come on defense so far. The 50 missed shots by Utah Valley State helped hide some offensive deficiencies by the Demon Deacons.

“I think that proves our team can win by defending,” Forbes said.

Forbes said the Demon Deacons need to become more physical around the rim at both ends.

Georgetown and Loyola Marymount are the other teams in the tournament field. The winners and losers meet Sunday.

–Field Level Media

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