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Duke Dumps Deacs 91-73

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There are a number of ways to describe Duke's 91-73 win over Wake Forest Thursday night. Methodical. Workmanlike. Taking care of business. Even inspired, at least sporadically.

Duke 91 Wake Forest 73

Wake deserves some credit for putting Saturday's debacle in the rear-view mirror. That would be their 76-40 home loss to North Carolina State. Wake competed for 40 minutes against Duke and got solid production from their two best players, Travis McKie and C.J. Harris.

But the visitors never actually had a chance to win the game. It was only three years ago that Wake Forest defeated Duke and jumped to the top spot in the AP poll. That must seem like a postcard from an alternate reality to the beleaguered Deacons program.

Still, the game wasn't without its talking points and teachable moments. Duke started Miles and Mason Plumlee, Andre Dawkins, Seth Curry and Quinn Cook, bringing Ryan Kelly and Austin Rivers off the bench.

Mike Krzyzewski downplayed the significance of the lineup change in the post-game. "It's just trying to look at different lineups, different ways of doing this team. We just started a different group, just like we started a different group in the second half against Clemson. Eight of our guys have started. So, when one guy doesn't start, it doesn't mean he's awful. We're just looking at a different thing. That's just the way our team has to be."

Kelly is a junior and has spent much of the last two seasons moving seamlessly between starter and first big off the bench. He said "I came in tonight with confidence and was aggressive. When you're pulled out of the starting lineup, it's hard no matter what and you've got to show that you're willing to do whatever it takes to help the team and I think I did that."

But Rivers is a freshman and isn't accustomed to coming off the bench. He found out that he wasn't starting two days ago and was chastened and angered by the demotion.

"I'm bringing it every day for the rest of the year. I really want to do what I can to help the team. These guys have my back and I have their back. In the past, when I had a bad game, no one would talk to me. Here, it's 'Austin, we believe in you, you can do it,' so much positive feedback, especially from the coaches. It's something new for me. I was pissed off. I wasn't mad at him in any way. I respect what he says. I was so angry, I went home, didn't talk to anybody. My teammates told me that's not the way to handle it. Pointing fingers and being a coward isn't going to help anything. Moving forward, whether I start or not doesn't matter, I'm going to do my best and help the team."

Kelly and Rivers certainly responded to coming off the bench. Kelly had 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Rivers scored 20 in 32 minutes.

Wake actually led a couple of times, the last time at 7-6. Kelly scored six points early, staking Duke to a 14-9 lead after seven minutes.

Kelly also figured in the play that started Duke's decisive break. Rivers went to the foul line with Duke still up 14-9. Rivers made the first shot but missed the second. Kelly tapped the rebound back to Andre Dawkins.

Dawkins got his first start in awhile, following his 24-point outburst against Clemson. Krzyzewski said Dawkins was nervous, but in a good way. Dawkins had missed his first 3-pointer of the evening. But he caught Kelly's tap in rhythm and buried the 3. The four-point possession put Duke up 18-9.

Then followed one of the most extraordinary runs in Duke basketball history and that is not an exaggeration. After Kelly converted an offensive rebound to make the score 25-16, Dawkins scored Duke's next 18 points. That's six 3-pointers in a span of less than seven minutes.

Rivers later compared Dawkins to Ray Allen as the best 3-point shooters he's seen. "He was shooting lights-out. We kept going to him. When he gets going, he spreads the whole floor for us, especially for me. When 'Dre shoots like that, it just makes the game easier for the rest of us."

Rivers ended the streak with a lay-up right before the buzzer. It was 45-32 at intermission.

Wake's Jeff Bzdelik said that his team had to go zone early to counteract Duke's advantage inside and once that happened they kept losing Dawkins. Determined not to repeat that mistake, the Deacons swarmed all over Dawkins in the second half. After scoring 21 points in the first half, he was held scoreless in the second half, shooting only once.

But Wake paid for the extra attention, leaving lanes open to the basket. Seth Curry got inside for four lay-ups in the first four minutes of the second half. Rivers and Kelly also exploited Wake's defensive weaknesses, while Plumlee, Plumlee and Kelly controlled the glass.

Duke's biggest lead was 26, on three separate occasions. It got sloppy down the stretch. Josh Hairston was called with a flagrant foul late and later fouled out, having played only 10 minutes. Duke was called for 26 fouls and sent Wake to the line a staggering 35 times, something that can't be repeated against more talented teams, one of whom shows up Saturday afternoon. Mike Krzyzewski says Florida State is the hottest team in the ACC and Duke will have to get ready for them in short order.

Notes.

Kelly ended the game with 10 rebounds, six of the offensive variety. He says that's no accident. "It's something I have to do better. It's something I focused on tonight and good things happened."

Krzyzewski revealed that Quinn Cook tweaked his knee at Clemson and sat out Monday's practice. "He hurt his knee a little bit again. We have to take a look at it. Hopefully, it's not anything too serious." Cook did play 14 minutes, nine after intermission.

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