WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — While Danny Manning may have won his debut as Wake Forest coach, he didn't expect to sleep soundly Friday night. "Because you go back and see you turned it over 24 times," Manning said.
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — While Danny Manning may have won his debut as Wake Forest coach, he didn't expect to sleep soundly Friday night.
"Because you go back and see you turned it over 24 times," Manning said.
Manning's rebuilding job in his home state got off to a good, albeit sloppy start thanks to Devin Thomas' 25 points and 13 rebounds as the Demon Deacons held off pesky UNC Asheville 80-69.
"This is the second time I've had a home opener as a head coach," said Manning, the 2014 Conference USA coach of the year at Tulsa. "Competitively, you always want to win. But I know we need to get better."
Dinos Mitoglou added 17 points and eight rebounds to help offset 26 points from UNC Asheville's Andrew Rowsey.
Manning, the former Kansas star and No. 1 NBA pick, replaced the fired Jeff Bzdelik in April. And he had to sweat through much of the game.
Rowsey kept UNC Asheville close thanks to a variety of leaners, fadeaways, scoop shots and 3-pointers. Last season's Big South freshman of the year's three free throws got the Bulldogs (0-1) within 49-47 with 11:26 left.
But Thomas then went to work, consistently getting to the free-throw line in a 13-2 spurt for Wake Forest (1-0) that saw UNC Asheville big men Giacomo Zilli and Jaleel Roberts foul out.
The Demon Deacons held a 49-25 rebounding edge and took 45 free throws.
Sporting a tan suit, the 6-foot-10 Manning was active on the bench __ and with his bench. He used 10 players in the first nine minutes, but all the changes led to a disjointed start.
Wake Forest had 10 turnovers in 12 minutes, but never trailed thanks to UNC Asheville's 0-for-6 start from the field and Thomas' dominance inside.
With guard Codi Miller-McIntyre on the bench with two early fouls, the Demon Deacons pounded it in low. The Bulldogs eventually double-teamed Thomas, but he was still able to muscle to the basket as Wake Forest built a 37-32 halftime lead.
Thomas hit his first five shots, and finished 7 of 9 from the field and 11 of 19 from the foul line.
Rowsey, who scored 20 points in the first half, struggled to get open shots as Wake Forest trapped him in the last 10 minutes. He went 9 of 21 from the field and UNC Asheville shot 32 percent.
Not a bad start, but nowhere near what Manning has planned.
"I'll try not to watch any tape (Friday night)," Manning said. "If I start watching tape, I won't go to sleep."
UNC Asheville: F Will Weeks (knee) and G Ahmad Thomas (leg) sat out. . The Bulldogs' lone season-opening road win in 11 seasons came at Auburn in 2010. They lost to Kentucky last season.
Wake Forest: Bzdelik rarely smiled, but Manning grinned and high-fived Mitoglou after his first-half gaffe. Mitoglou stole the ball and went in for an uncontested dunk __ that bounced off the bottom of the rim.
"Did that ball slip out of your hands?" a smiling Manning asked Mitoglou after the game. When Mitoglou nodded, Manning replied, "Good answer."
Mitoglou, the only newcomer to start for Wake Forest, hit 9 of 10 free throws.
UNC Asheville coach Nick McDevitt tried nearly everything to slow the 6-9 Thomas.
"From playing behind, side, front, to doubling in the post, to zone," McDevitt said. "He's a man."
Rowsey's ability to score in different ways impressed Manning.
"He's fun to watch," Manning said. "I wish he was on our team."
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
"It's better energy," Thomas said on Manning taking over. "It's good when your coach wants to win as bad as the players do."
UNC Asheville visits East Carolina on Sunday.
Wake Forest plays Monday at Tulane.