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Next Up - Wake Forest

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Next up for Duke is Wake Forest and while the Deacs are unquestionably improved after last year's disaster, they're not all the way back yet.

Duke vs. Wake Forest 7 PM, ESPN

Yet unlike last season, Wake's losses are generally speaking not truly awful.

The loss to Wofford is an exception to that and Arizona State was not a good one either.  Dayton though is a tough and well-coached team, Richmond is thriving, and Seton Hall is at the same basic level in the Big East as Wake is in the ACC.

In conference play, they surprised Virginia Tech and played Maryland to a six point loss before being crushed by State, 76-40.

Wake comes to Cameron with a 10-7 record.

Last year, though, they arrived at 7-10 and would only win one more game the entire season.

Part of the reason they're better is simply chemistry, addition through subtraction: JT Terrell, Ari Stewart and Melvin Tabb are all gone, as is Tony Wood, who left after a domestic assault charge.

All of them were gifted players; all were boneheads at Wake Forest.

If they were capable of staying out of trouble and handling the transition to Jeff Bzdelik, Wake would be much, much farther along.

That they've gotten better without them speaks volumes.

Terrell and Stewart are now at USC, while Wood is enrolled at Oregon. We don't know what Tabb is up to.

There are at least six ACC transfers in the PAC-12 by the way, with the Wear twins at UCLA along with former Heel/heel Larry Drew II.

Wake is heavily dependent on guard CJ Harris, who has averaged 17.3 ppg, and Travis McKie, who has put up 17.1.

Point guard Tony Chennault is averaging 10.6 ppg.

Four other players are averaging at least 5.2 ppg: Nikita Mescheriakov, rookie three point specialist Chase Fischer, Ty Walker and Carson Desrosiers.

Anthony Fields is not scoring as much but is in the rotation with 11.1 mpg.

Wake's best hope against a team like Duke is to slow it down. The Deacs have held opponents to an average of 67 ppg. With a few exceptions - ASU and State, along with Seton Hall - all of the losses have been fairly close ones.

They'll have significant challenges with the Plumlees inside and also Ryan Kelly, and Duke's perimeter game is likely to give them trouble as well.

Duke may have a tough matchup with McKie, an athletic small forward, and both he and Harris are excellent outside snipers, with Harris at nearly 50% from three point range and McKie at 40%. Fischer as we said was brought to Wake specifically for his outside shooting.

Wake also has the incentive, like UNC, of proving that the awful loss to State was an aberration.

Like any other team, they have pride and a desire to do well, and State pretty emphatically denied that.  Duke can reasonably expect to get Wake's best shot, and for the Deacs that means a slower, disciplined game.

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