CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — A few of the faces have changed, and playing an ACC game to open the season was unique.
Once the ball was tipped: Same ole, same ole.
Boston College beat Wake Forest 77-70 on Wednesday night at Conte Forum in the season opener for both teams.
The Deacons were plagued in a few familiar areas, committing 17 turnovers and giving up 10 fast-break points.
Coach Danny Manning’s solution to avoiding those pitfalls as the season goes — remember, this was an ACC game to start the season — is familiar, too.
“Well, I think the first thing we’ve got to continue to do is we’ve got to get paint touches,” Manning said. “… You know, we had 34 shot attempts in the first half and 10 of them were 3s.
“We probably need to get to the free-throw line — not probably — we need to get to the free-throw line more than four times in a half. … And then if we do that, and take care of the ball, it takes away from those points off turnovers and it takes away from those fast-break opportunities.”
Wake Forest, which slipped to 5-41 in ACC road games in Manning’s five-plus seasons, trailed by 15 at halftime and by 19 early in the second half. The Deacons cut the deficit to seven multiple times in the last two minutes, but Boston College made enough free throws to keep this from being closer than a three-possession game at any point.
That’s the way so many games have gone in the past two seasons, consecutive 11-20 treks, and the trends of turnovers and poor transition defense putting the Deacons behind early are also troubling.
“We know we messed up, we know what we need to fix, and let’s go in this next game and blow these dudes out by 30. That’s the mentality that we have,” said sophomore forward Isaiah Mucius, who had a career-high 18 points. “… We’re going to back into the gym, watch film, fix those mistakes and then dominate the next game and that’s what we have to come with every single game.”
The end-of-game totals were a problem in two categories — points off turnovers (18-2) and fast-break points (10-4). But they were crippling in looking at the first half alone, when Boston College led 12-0 in points off turnovers and 10-0 in fast-break points.
Two runs by Boston College in the first half put the Eagles up 42-27 at halftime — it would’ve been worse if not for Mucius’ 14 first-half points, including two 3-pointers, and freshman Ody Oguama’s instant energy in the form of six points and five rebounds.
Oguama finished with 10 points and seven rebounds, while junior forward Olivier Sarr had four points, five rebounds and four turnovers.
The Eagles went on an 11-0 run after Oguama’s second basket had Wake Forest ahead 9-7 — that was the Deacons’ last lead. Expanded, that 11-0 burst for Boston College was the front end of a 19-3 run.
Otherwise, separation came in the last 4½ minutes of the first half. Boston College scored 11 straight points then, too, and a free throw by Sarr and corner 3-pointer by Mucius in the last 30 seconds meant Wake Forest wasn’t scoreless for that final 4½ minutes.
Wake Forest entered the season with Manning harping on the value of his experienced roster, especially in the backcourt. In the first half, Brandon Childress, Chaundee Brown and Andrien White were a combined 1-for-13 from the field. White picked up three fouls in the first 11 minutes of the first half. He fouled out with 2:55 left.
“We just couldn’t get going defensively. Forget offensively, it could be anybody’s night. Obviously (Mucius) had it going (in the) first half,” said Childress. “I mean, I had to do a better job of finding different ways to get going as well.
“But defensively we just didn’t do a good job of executing. And that’s what happened, we didn’t come out with any fire.”
Childress finished with a game-high 24 points, 23 of them coming in the second half. Brown wound up with eight points and 12 rebounds.
By the first media timeout, Wake Forest had subbed in three players — sophomore guard Sharone Wright Jr. and freshmen forwards Ismael Massoud and Oguama. It didn’t stop there — by the time Michael Wynn entered the game with 27 seconds left in the first half, he was the 12th player to take the court for Wake Forest.
Wynn, after he was the seventh player to come off the bench in the first half, was the first sub off of the bench in the second half. The rotation of players in the second half seemed to tighten, although Manning made it clear the Deacons will play an array of players.
“All those guys know coming into practice — those spots are open. There are no guaranteed spots,” Manning said. “And so these guys understand that and there’ll be some changes if we don’t see something a little bit more to our liking in terms of taking care of the basketball and getting to the free-throw line.
“It stays open, the rest of the year. You know what I mean? From the standpoint of you have to go out and get it every day. You’ve gotta earn it every day.”
BOSTON COLLEGE 77, WAKE FOREST 70
WAKE FOREST (0-1)
Mucius 8-13 0-0 18, Sarr 1-7 2-4 4, White 0-2 1-2 1, Childress 7-16 8-9 24, Brown 4-12 0-0 8, Oguama 4-6 2-2 10, Massoud 0-0 0-0 0, Okeke 0-0 0-0 0, Wynn 0-1 0-0 0, Johnson 0-1 0-0 0, Neath 0-0 0-0 0, Wright 2-4 0-0 5. Totals 26-62 13-17 70.
BOSTON COLLEGE (1-0)
Mitchell 0-3 1-2 1, Jai.Hamilton 1-2 0-0 2, Popovic 7-13 4-6 19, Thornton 7-14 7-12 23, Heath 7-11 3-5 18, Felder 2-7 0-0 5, Williams 0-0 0-0 0, Jar.Hamilton 2-9 0-0 5, Herren 0-1 0-0 0, Rishwain 1-2 2-2 4. Totals 27-62 17-27 77.
Halftime—Boston College 42-27. 3-Point Goals—Wake Forest 5-14 (Mucius 2-3, Childress 2-6, Wright 1-2, Johnson 0-1, Brown 0-2), Boston College 6-18 (Thornton 2-3, Heath 1-2, Felder 1-2, Jar.Hamilton 1-3, Popovic 1-4, Mitchell 0-1, Jai.Hamilton 0-1, Herren 0-1, Rishwain 0-1). Fouled Out—Thornton, Oguama, White. Rebounds—Wake Forest 40 (Brown 12), Boston College 30 (Mitchell 9). Assists—Wake Forest 12 (Childress 7), Boston College 12 (Mitchell 4). Total Fouls—Wake Forest 23, Boston College 20.