Hoard makes impressive debut; Wake Forest tops NC A&T 90-78
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Wake Forest coach Danny Manning felt compelled to give highly-touted freshman Jaylen Hoard a pep talk at halftime of Hoard’s first career game. Manning declined to share his exact language with reporters, but the message was simple: “Play better.”
Hoard obliged, contributing 15 of his 19 points and 10 of his 13 rebounds in the second half of the Demon Deacons‘ 90-78 win over North Carolina A&T to open their season on Saturday.
Hoard became the first Wake Forest freshman to record a double-double in his first game since eventual NBA lottery pick Al-Farouq Aminu tallied 21 points and 10 rebounds against North Carolina Central in 2008.
“I just needed to pick it up defensively, get more rebounds, because I was kind of slacking in that area to start the game off,” Hoard said he was told at halftime. “I needed to play with more energy. In the second half, I came out and I did that.”
“I might try it before the game next time,” Manning quipped.
The Aggies (0-2) were plagued by foul trouble. Starting center Ibrahim Sylla, who played 31 minutes in his team’s season-opening loss to UNC Greensboro, fouled out in only 8 minutes on Saturday.
That allowed Wake Forest (1-0) to dominate on the glass and at the foul line. The hosts finished with a 44-22 edge in total rebounds, turned 17 offensive boards into 24 second-chance points, and made 26 of 33 free throw attempts.
“That’s something we have to fix ASAP, because we’re not going to be successful if teams can just come into the game and say, ‘Just crash the O-glass; A&T doesn’t rebound very well,'” Aggies coach Jay Joyner said. “We went with a small lineup. When you go with three guards, they have to have some grit, get in there and help the team rebound.”
The Demon Deacons led by double digits for all but 24 seconds in the second half, comfortably earning their seventh win in the program’s last eight season-openers.
For NC A&T, Andre Jackson scored 18 points and Terry Harris added 15.
Wake Forest: The Deacs held serve, moving to 18-1 against MEAC opponents and winning their 15th consecutive non-conference game against teams from North Carolina.
NC A&T: The Aggies have talent, but may need time to come together after a dramatic roster overhaul. Between graduation and transfers, NC A&T lost 10 players from a team that finished 20-15 last season, delivering the program’s third 20-win season in the last 30 years.
CHILDRESS IN CHARGE
While Hoard’s performance led Wake Forest statistically, guard Brandon Childress drew raves from Manning for his efficiency. The junior finished with 18 points, six assists, four rebounds, and only one turnover in 36 minutes of play.
“I thought that was really, really good from him — a great floor game,” Manning said. “That’s the type of play we need from him on a nightly basis. He’s the one guy on our team I’m going to put some pressure on to perform. He’s been there, he has the minutes, and he knows what it’s all about. That’s what he needs to do, be the quarterback of our team.”
Wake Forest will travel to South Carolina to compete in the inaugural Myrtle Beach Invitational, beginning play on Thursday against Saint Joseph’s. The teams last met in the 2004 NCAA tournament when the Hawks knocked off the Demon Deacons in the Sweet 16.
NC A&T will get another chance at a road win over a power conference opponent when it plays at Maryland on Monday night.