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Mar 19, 2024 4:10 pm

No. 1 seed Wake Forest faces Appalachian State in NIT opener

Hunter Sallis

Appalachian State and Wake Forest will have at least one more chance to extend their seasons when the schools meet in the first round of the NIT in Winston-Salem, N.C., on Wednesday night.

No. 1 seed Wake Forest (20-13) was knocked out in the second round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament on Thursday, losing 81-69 to Pitt in Washington, D.C.

Appalachian State (27-6) reached the Sun Belt Conference tournament semifinal on March 10 in Pensacola, Fla., but lost to Arkansas State 67-65 on a buzzer-beater.

“I am proud of our players and staff as they have battled every day all season long,” Wake Forest coach Steve Forbes said. “Our fans and students’ support throughout the 2023-24 season has been incredible and our entire program is appreciative of their ongoing support.”

This is the second time in Forbes’ four seasons at Wake Forest that he has taken his team to the postseason. Forbes’ 2021-22 team reached the NIT quarterfinals.

A trio of guards lead the Wake Forest attack. The leading scorer is Hunter Sallis, who averages 18.1 points per game and has hit 74 of 179 (41.3 percent) from 3-point range, while Kevin Miller (15.2 ppg) and Cameron Hildreth of England (13.7 ppg) are also backcourt threats.

Andrew Carr leads the Demon Deacons inside, averaging 13.2 points and 6.6 rebounds.

Appalachian State will gladly make the 80-mile trip east from Boone, N.C., to for the Mountaineers’ second appearance in the NIT. They lost in the first round to Ole Miss in the 2007 NIT under coach Houston Fancher.

“Playing in the postseason is a huge deal,” Appalachian State coach Dustin Kerns said. “This is another stair taken upwards in the evolution of our program. No one on our team has ever played in the NIT, so this will be a great experience for everyone.”

The Mountaineers are led by All-Sun Belt first-team selections Donovan Gregory (13.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg) and Tre’Von Spillers (12.8 ppg, 8.8 rpg).

The schools have met 21 times, with Wake Forest winning all 21.

The winner will face the winner of Tuesday night’s game between No. 4 seed Georgia (17-16) and Xavier (16-17).

–Field Level Media

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