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Wake's Increasingly Unreliable Defense

The ACC's heavy hitters are having problems defending of late, and although Wake Forest's full season numbers still look strong, the Deacs have had their own issues, which were on full display against Duke on Sunday. In what was probably the most entertaining conference game of the season, Wake scored on 28 of 32 possessions in the game's middle portion but never pulled even with Duke because the Blue Devils were just about as unstoppable.

Duke shot a modest 34.8% from outside in that game, but they hit 65.8% of their twos. Wake rolled to a 3-0 start in league play on the strength of its interior defense--UNC, BC, and Clemson shot a combined 38% inside the arc. Their next time out, though, they were stunned at home by a Virginia Tech team that made 65.5% of its twos, and they've been up and down since, posting a 4-5 record over their last nine. The Tech game ended up being a sign of things to come:

 Def_Eff (Rk) eFG% (Rk) TO% (Rk) OR% (Rk) FTR (Rk) 2FG% (Rk) 3FG% (Rk)
Overall 101.4 (5) 46.3 (2) 19.7 (7) 35.2 (3) 42.4 (11) 46.8 (4) 30.3 (1)
Last9 104.3 48.9 19.9 34.5 45.4 50.4 30.7
Losses 115.1 53.3 17.7 36.8 54.5 54.9 33.7

Their defensive decline is not of disastrous proportions, but it is clear their interior defense is not as disruptive as it was during the first half of the season. If there's one defense you'd expect to hold up in conference play, it's Wake's--they have the tallest roster in the ACC and their pack line scheme is designed to clog the lane. Opponents are also getting to the line a lot (27 times a game over the last nine), so maybe Wake's positioning and footwork is off. But who knows.