For our Top Plays of the Day, check out today’s Fab Five:
Wake Forest at Georgia Tech
When and Where: Saturday, Jan. 5, McCamish Pavilion, Atlanta, Ga., 2 p.m. EST.
Georgia Tech may have the perfect opponent to open ACC play against in Wake Forest on Saturday, with the Yellow Jackets seeking their 13th straight home victory over the Demon Deacons in the conference lid-lifter for both teams.
Deacons look to shake off perimeter woes
Wake Forest (7-5) has dropped both its true road games this season, absorbing double-digit losses at Richmond and then-No. 3 Tennessee.
The Demon Deacons avoided entering ACC play on a three-game skid after cruising past Cornell 83-61 on Wednesday night. Jaylen Hoard scored a career-high 23 points and matched a career-best with 15 rebounds for Wake, which cleared 50 percent shooting for just the third time this season and connected at a 60.4 percent clip inside the arc.
— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) January 3, 2019
With a young team led by sophomore Brandon Childress, who is scoring a team-high 16.4 points, and Hoard — contributing 15.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game — Wake coach Danny Manning is not really sure how his players will respond to the rigors of the ACC.
“No. How could you?” Manning responded when asked by the Winston-Salem Journal about knowing how his players would respond. “You know what I mean? You haven’t been there. … But I mean, we talk about it … and it’s going to be trial by fire.
“We knew that going into it, with our situation, regardless of how the nonconference played out. Going into our first conference game, there are only going to be a handful of guys with ACC experience.”
Hoard is the only ACC player with two 20-15 games this season and just the fourth Deacons freshman in school history to accomplish the feat. Wake was just 1-8 on the road in conference play in 2017-18, beating only last-place Pittsburgh, and 4-32 since Manning took over in 2014.
Yellow Jackets seek third straight win
The last time Georgia Tech (8-5) lost at home to Wake Forest, Chris Paul was still running the offense for the Demon Deacons. The Yellow Jackets have posted six of their 12 wins during this streak by double figures, but the last two have been by a combined 13 points.
The current edition of Yellow Jackets looking to extend this run are trying to match a season high with three straight wins after pulling away for a 78-63 win over South Carolina-Upstate on Wednesday. Josh Pastner got 45 points from his bench, paced by a career-high 16 from sophomore Evan Cole.
— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) January 3, 2019
“Good win, we found a way to get a win. Our start was a little sluggish but we defended,” Pastner said post-game. “We found ways to obviously get the win but it was through our defense. We held them to 30-percent from the field, 22 [percent] from 3[-point range]. Offensively, coming off the bench, Evan Cole and A.D. [Abdoulaye Gueye] gave us really good minutes.”
Pastner also was pleased with an offense that moved the ball, racking up 22 assists on 29 field goals to give them 51 on 64 baskets over the last two games. Jose Alvarado is averaging team highs of 13.2 points and 3.0 assists but shooting just 25.4 percent from 3-point range.
Brandon Alston is the team’s designated 3-point threat, shooting 44.7 percent from beyond the arc (17 for 38), but as a team, the Yellow Jackets are connecting at just 30.5 percent from deep overall.
Georgia Tech is:
- 9-4 ATS in its last 13 games as a favorite.
- 25-11 ATS in its last 36 home games.
- 7-2 ATS in its last nine games vs. above-.500 teams.
- The under is 11-4 in its last 15 games following a straight up win.
- The under is 9-4 in its last 13 games as a favorite.
- The under is 5-2 in its last seven home games vs. Wake Forest.
Wake Forest is:
- 3-14 ATS in its last 17 games vs. ACC opponents.
- 3-9 ATS in its last 12 games following a straight up win.
- 1-8 ATS in its last nine road games vs. Georgia Tech.
- The under is 5-2 in its last seven road games.
- The under is 4-0 in its last four games vs. above-.600 teams.
- The under is 4-1 in its last five games following an ATS win.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Manning’s comments do not promote much confidence in Wake Forest ending its misery in Atlanta this season. The Demon Deacons have good young pieces, but a team has to learn how to win on the road before it actually wins on the road. The line has moved down one point, which increases the confidence in the Yellow Jackets covering.
Prediction: Pick: Georgia Tech -7.5
Full-Game Total Pick
Georgia Tech has quietly put together a solid defense that has held opponents to 38.2 percent shooting and 61.8 points per game. The Yellow Jackets have allowed more than 70 points just once, and the Demon Deacons are not efficient enough offensively to turn this game into a shootout. With the line moving 1.5 points higher in the overnight, there is more confidence in the under hitting.
Prediction: Pick: UNDER 136.5 points
Half-Time Side Pick
There is some trepidation for this pick because Georgia Tech has struggled at times in the first half. The Demon Deacons, though, have led at halftime just once in their five road and neutral-site games.
Prediction: Pick: Georgia Tech -4
Half-Time Total Bet
Wake has played to 59 points or less in four of its last five games. With the Yellow Jackets at 63 or less in four of its last six plus a solid defense, the under is the play here.
Prediction: Pick: UNDER 64 points