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Short-handed Wake Forest tips off against Elon

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Missing five scholarship players hardly is an ideal way to practice and scrimmage but Wake Forest was encouraged after navigating a charity exhibition game against Alabama short-handed.

By the time Wake Forest hosts Elon in its season opener on Monday in Winston-Salem, N.C., the Demon Deacons hope their roster will contain some more depth.

Picked for sixth in the Atlantic Coast Conference preseason poll, Wake Forest enters its fourth season under coach Steve Forbes seeking its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2017.

The Demon Deacons return three starters, including Cameron Hildreth, who averaged 12.4 points last season and is being counted on to replace the 18.8 points Tyree Appleby averaged as Wake Forest finished 19-14.

Hildreth provided a glimpse at his increased role in the 88-80 win over Alabama on Oct. 29. He scored 38 points and played 36 minutes to help the Demon Deacons take control in the second half.

Hildreth logged heavy minutes because transfers Kevin Miller (Central Michigan) and Abramo Canka (UCLA) did not play due to injuries that are not considered long term.

The Demon Deacons are without Jao Ituka and Damari Monsanto because of long-term injuries, and are awaiting a ruling on Gonzaga transfer Efton Reid’s waiver.

Elon was 10th in the 14-team Coastal Athletic Association’s preseason poll. The Phoenix went 8-24 in coach Billy Taylor’s first season and return Max Mackinnon, the league’s rookie of the year, who is part of a roster featuring 12 freshmen and sophomores.

“I knew we’d be challenged,” Taylor said at media day. “We had some things that we had to try and get settled in terms of year one in laying the foundation for our program.”

Mackinnon is Elon’s top returning scorer after averaging 11.4 points with three double-doubles, including a 19-point showing against Indiana. Zac Ervin (9.3 ppg) and Sam Sherry (9.1) also return for the Phoenix.

Wake Forest leads the all-time series 5-0 and the schools are meeting for the first time since Nov. 20, 2010.

–Field Level Media

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