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The Appalachian

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Mountaineers open NIT against Wake Forest

Senior+forward+CJ+Huntley+goes+up+for+a+layup+against+Old+Dominion+Feb.+28.
Ashton Woodruff
Senior forward CJ Huntley goes up for a layup against Old Dominion Feb. 28.

App State will face Wake Forest in Winston-Salem Wednesday in the first round of the NIT. It marks the Black and Gold’s second appearance in the tournament.

“Playing in the postseason is a huge deal,” said head coach Dustin Kerns. “This is another stair taken in the evolution of our program.”

Last season, the Demon Deacons downed the Mountaineers 66-65 on a last-second game-winner from Wake’s Andrew Carr. 

“I want to complement App State on a really well played game,” said Wake Forest head coach Steve Forbes following the matchup. “Dustin is a good basketball coach.”

The Demon Deacons seemed poised to make their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2017 after downing No. 8 Duke at home Feb. 24. However, they went 2-4 down the stretch and were eliminated in the ACC tournament quarterfinals by Pittsburgh. 

Wake is led by first-team All-ACC guard and potential first-round NBA draft pick Hunter Sallis. The Omaha, Nebraska native averaged 18.1 points per game on 49% shooting from the field and 41% from three. He scored a career-high 33 points against NC State Feb. 10 and has scored 20 or more 15 times this season. Wake is 10-5 when Sallis scored above 20 points.

The Demon Deacons feature three other double-digit scorers in guards Kevin Miller and Cameron Hildreth as well as Carr. They are all efficient scorers, shooting over 46% from the field and 36% from downtown.

Wake Forest ranks 23rd in the country in three point percentage at 37% as a team. Additionally, they shoot around 47.7% from the field, ranking 33rd nationally.

Despite their firepower on offense, they struggle at the other end of the court. Wake ranks 125th in scoring defense, opponents average 70.5 points against them. Opponents shoot 43% against the Demon Deacons, ranking 140th in the country.

Should the Mountaineers defeat Wake Forest inside the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum, they would face the winner of Georgia-Xavier. The Bulldogs and Musketeers play Tuesday in Athens, Georgia. 

Tip-off for the Black and Gold’s opening round matchup is at 8 p.m. Wednesday. The game will be streamed on ESPN+.

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About the Contributors
Ethan Smith
Ethan Smith, Sports Editor
Ethan Smith (he/him) is a senior journalism major, media studies minor. This is his third year writing for The Appalachian.
Ashton Woodruff
Ashton Woodruff, Photo Editor
Ashton Woodruff (she/her) is a junior IDS Criminal Justice/Photojournalism major, and a Social Work minor. This is her second year with The Appalachian.
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