FAYETTEVILLE — From a wake to Wake, the Arkansas Razorbacks’ 3-3 season proceeds tonight in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Needing a wake to recover from being buried in a game-ending 21-1 Stanford run in the final 6:38 dissipating a 17-point Arkansas lead into a 69-66 loss in the NIT Season Tip-Off game last Friday in Brooklyn, N.Y., the Razorbacks revived with Tuesday’s 117-78 triumph over Northwestern (La.) State at Walton Arena, before hitting the road again to play the 5-2 Wake Forest Demon Deacons of the ACC tonight at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Tipoff is 6 p.m. (CST) on the Razorbacks’ radio network with Internet video on ESPN3.
Tonight’s clash of SEC vs. ACC teams completes a home-and-home series that Arkansas started with an 83-53 demolition of the Demon Deacons last season at Walton Arena.
However, only 23 of Arkansas’ 83 points scored on Wake at Walton last season return for tonight’s rematch.
Fifth-year Arkansas coach Mike Anderson deals from a decidedly depleted deck compared to last season’s 27-9 Razorbacks.
Second-year Wake coach Danny Manning, the former Kansas All-American big man, returns the gist of a team that though only 13-19 last season, this season has beaten Indiana, UCLA, Bucknell and Rutgers.
The Demon Deacons are led by 6-9 senior Devin Thomas who posted a 19-point, 10-rebound double-double on Arkansas in Walton and averages a team-leading double-double 18.4 points and 11.3 rebounds his season.
Thomas plays in twin-tower tandem with 6-10 returning sophomore starting center Konstantinos (he goes by Dinos for short) Mitoglou averaging 12.0 points and 7.0 rebounds.
Sophomore starting forward Greg McClinton and sophomore starting guard Mitchell Wilbekin, the brother of former Florida Gators star guard Scottie Wilbekin and averaging 10.0 points, return from last season’s Demon Deacons while freshman guard Bryant Crawford debuts impressively second in scoring, 14.3, only to Thomas.
Freshman forward John Collins, 6-10, averages the most scoring, 9.7, off the Wake bench.
“It’s a good basketball team that is playing good basketball,” Anderson said of the Demon Deacons. “They have some seasoning. Devin Thomas averaging a double-double for their basketball team as well as the kid Bryant Crawford, a really good basketball player. So it’s a team that has some tremendous talent and good size.”
Anderson touted Wake’s rebounding, ominous for Arkansas.
The previous ACC team Arkansas played, Georgia Tech in an 83-73 Thanksgiving day NIT loss in Brooklyn, outrebounded Arkansas, 50-26.
“Their strength is being able to shoot it and go get it,” Anderson said. “And we just played against an ACC team in Georgia Tech and that’s what they they did. They shot it and went and got it off the board. So that is something that we have got to do a lot better job of. And hopefully we can create some tempo with our pressure defense.”
Manning will be concerned with Arkansas 6-10 junior center Moses Kingsley averaging a 16.7. 10.2 double-double but foul prone.
Kingsley fouling out against Stanford contributed vastly to Arkansas’ late-game meltdown, especially with 6-9 Trey Thompson, the Madison native and Forrest City High grad, sidelined by a sprained ankle during the Georgia Tech game.
Thompson also missed the Northwestern State game. He traveled to Winston-Salem but Anderson said Wednesday it remains “day to day” when Thompson’s ankle is ready to play.
Willy Kouassi, the 6-10 graduate student transfer from Kennesaw State, provided 14 points and nine rebounds in 18 off the bench minutes against Northwestern State but faces bigger and better inside opposition tonight.
Manning will be concerned by the 3-point shooting of Razorbacks guards Dusty Hannahs, 17 for 33, and Anthlon Bell, 19 for 46, but Anderson was most pleased to see the Hogs take only six first-half 3-point shots against Northwestern State and rely more on its foul-drawing inside game and for its defense to create offense.
Revenge is seldom a major motive with college basketball teams playing so many games but last year’s 30-point loss in Fayetteville should linger for the Demon Deacons to demonize.
“Maybe we just caught them at the right time,” Anderson said of last year’s game. “I’m sure with the return game they’ll be ready to play.
Arkansas vs. Wake Forest
F-Keaton Miles, 6-7, Sr., 4.8 pts., 4.0 rebs.
C-Moses Kingsley, 6-10, Jr., 16.7, 10. 2
G-Jabril Durham, 6-1, Sr., 6.5, 3.7
G-Anthlon Bell, 6-3, Sr., 18.0, 1.3
G-Jimmy Whitt, 6-4, Fr., 11.0, 2.7
DEMON DEACONS (5-2)
F-Greg McClinton, 6-7, So., 4.6 pts., 4.3 rebs.
F-Devin Thomas, 6-9, Sr., 18.4, 11.3
C-Konstantinos Mitoglou, 6-10, So., 12.0, 7.7
G-Mitchell Wilbekin, 6-2, So., 10.4, 2.0
G-Bryant Crawford, 6-3, Fr., 14.3, 3.7