Duke held off Wake Forest 79-71 Tuesday night to run their record to 22-8, 11-6 in the ACC
And it felt like a good win. It was even a take-off-the-jacket kind of game for Mike Krzyzewski.
Duke was coming off its worst game of the season, a desultory 76-62 loss at Pittsburgh, where the young, thin Blue Devils seemed to be running on fumes.
Truth be told, there was more than a little fume running on display in Cameron. But Duke dug deep and used a decisive 9-2 run in the middle of the second half to get enough separation to milk down the stretch.
It was hot and humid in Cameron, not the best environment for a Duke team that plays lots of guys lots of minutes. And Wake played 10 players, distributing fouls in ways Duke cannot, while trying to run Duke into the ground.
Playing its third game in six days, two days after the Pitt debacle and the last game before the Tar Heels come to town. That adds up to a perfect trap game.
Add a determined Wake team to the equation. The Deacons have had some adversity of their own, the dismissal of Cornelius Hudson, a two-game suspension of Devin Thomas and a double-overtime loss at Pitt-a lot closer than Duke came to winning there.
But Danny Manning had his team focused and hungry. Duke led most of the first half; it was tied once, at 12-12. But Duke simply couldn’t finish inside. The Blue Devils shot 10-35 from the field in the first half, 7-25 on two-pointers, most in the paint, most somehow finding their way out of the basket.Mike Krzyzewski said the early shooting woes kept building. "It must have been eight or 10 shots, right there and I think you could see it affect our guys, not as much defensively. We still played pretty good defense but it was frustrating."Duke did lead 29-21, with 5:29 left but missed six of their final seven shots from the field. A Greg McClinton layup with seven seconds left cut Duke’s halftime lead to a precarious point, 35-34.It got worse right after intermission. Matt Jones used the word "lull" to describe Duke’s defensive effort, or lack thereof. Mitchell Wilbekin hit a 3-pointer to put Wake up 37-35 and the visitors kept the pressure on.Jones picked up his second, third and fourth fouls in a span of less than three minutes and took a seat.
With Jones sitting on the bench and Luke Kennard’s offense missing in action, Duke relied on Grayson Allen, Brandon Ingram and Marshall Plumlee for most of their offense down the stretch.It was enough. The game was tied seven times in the second half, the last at 56-56, with 12:02 left.
Allen broke the tie with a 3-pointer. Bryant Crawford hit a layup.
Then Duke’s defense took over. Manning said his team got good shots but they didn’t look that good from where I was sitting."In the second half, especially the late in the second half, we started to play good defense," Allen said. "We did a great job of defensive rebounding. . . . The key down the stretch was just getting stops."The Deacons missed eight of their next nine shots after the Crawford make, three of them from beyond the arc.
By this point, Krzyzewski had removed his jacket. Nothing about the officiating he said. More about firing up his team.
"It was more to show our team a sign and then they gutted it out. . . . I’m supposed to do that and my staff is supposed to do it. Different teams need different things."They noticed. "That fires me up," Plumlee said. "When coach is fired up, that fires you up."Jones said that is the signal that Duke needs to match its coach’s intensity.Duke wasn’t exactly scintillating on offense during this five-minute span. But Derryck Thornton—scoreless for the first 30 minutes—twice sneaked into the lane for layups and then dished to Plumlee for an emphatic dunk that made it 70-62, with 3:46 left."I thought he made some tough plays those last 12 minutes," Krzyzewski said of Thornton.Duke didn’t put away Wake until the final minute. Jones came back in with 6:34 left and fouled out in the final minute. By that time, Plumlee had also fouled out, after a game-long interior brawl with Wake’s Devin Thomas.Allen went to the foul line five times in the final 70 seconds—Wake got their money’s worth on several of them-and made six of 10. But Duke’s defense was still in control.It was another iron-man five for Duke. Chase Jeter made a foul shot late after a hack-a-Jeter and that was Duke’s only bench point. Even with the foul trouble, all of Duke’s starters played at least 27 minutes, with Brandon Ingram and Allen playing 39 and 37 respectively.Allen scored 30 points, his fourth 30-point/plus game of the season. He has scored in double figures his last 19 games.
Ingram had 15 points and 11 rebounds, his eighth double-double.
Plumlee (9 points/10 rebounds) almost had a double-double in the first half. He ended with 13 points and 17 rebounds, the scoring total held down by a 5-11 effort from the foul line, after starting 4-4.
The 17 rebounds equals his career best, set earlier this season against Syracuse.
Jones added 14 points. Thornton was an unsung hero, helping harass Wake point guard Crawford into six turnovers and 6-15 shooting.
Duke still ended up losing the battle of the boards 42-41, with each team having a dozen second-chance points.
Still, much better than last Sunday.
"I’m glad I was able to do my part to keep some balls alive," Plumlee said. "I think there was a collective sense of urgency tonight, everyone pushing one another to be their best."Krzyzewski praised the crowd and his team. "I’m proud of my guys. It’s the third game in six days. With the one in between our worst game of the year and to come back 48 hours later and show who they’ve been."
Matt Jones tweaked an ankle late and will be evaluated. Vigil time?
It might be time to shut down the Amile Jefferson vigil. Krzyzewski said that Jefferson still cannot "run fluidly," cannot "push off that thing.""We’ve got to make a decision here quick, quick now."
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- Duke survives Wake Forest 79-71
- Wake Forest's Danny Manning speaks about Deacs' loss to Blue Devils
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- Stephen Schramm: Far from perfect, Duke heads into March with reason for optimism
- Box Score
- Season Stats