What was it I said last week about this time?
That’s right. Nothing comes easy for this Duke team.
Ditto. Rinse and repeat. Déjà vu all over again.
But the bottom line is Duke 99, Wake Forest 94, a good, old-fashioned shootout that leaves Duke 22-5, 10-4 in the ACC, seven straight wins since the NC State debacle that seems so long ago.
Duke accomplished all this despite being on the short end of differentials in foul shots, offensive rebounds and turnovers.
But the Blue Devils got some big stops late, knocked down some foul shots and held on.
Duke placed six players in double figures and hit 13-27 from beyond the arc. The Deacs were 5-15, a difference that Wake coach Danny Manning said was the deciding factor.
“We wanted to make them hit tough shots and they hit them. We have to do a better job of defending out there.”
The first half was a see-saw affair. Neither team led by more than four points in a half that saw seven ties and 14 lead changes.
Duke’s freshmen big men Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles and Marques Bolden combined for seven first-half fouls. But Bolden gave Duke a solid stint, six points and a rebound in six minutes, albeit with some shaky defense.
The half ended 47-47.
Krzyzewski said Duke lacked “edge” in the first half and made some changes at intermission.
“In the second half we just switched everything. We can’t go zone, our ball-screen defense stinks, let’s switch and if they want to try to take advantage of us inside, at least they won’t be driving and they’ll be two-point shots. It was a good trade. It got us tougher offensively. The defensive rebounds led to some aggressive offense.”
Krzyzewski pulled Allen for Frank Jackson early in the second half, saying that Allen was “distracted” and “frustrated” by his foot injury, unable to make the athletic plays he usually can make.
Jackson provided what Amile Jefferson called “a shot of adrenaline. That enabled us to get a lead and we were able to hold that lead.”
Jackson hit a 3 to put Duke up 54-51, finished a fast-break—started by a Jefferson block and defensive rebound—to make it 58-54 and hit another shot for 60-54.
Matt Jones hit a bomb and Duke was up 63-54 and Tatum followed a few minutes later and it was 71-59, with about 12 minutes left.
But Wake kept grinding, winning several 50-50 loose ball rebounds, finding John Collins inside and converting a pair of old-fashioned three-point plays, even a four-point play by Alex Arians.
Duke only missed two foul shots on the afternoon but both were the first end of a one-and-one, first Matt Jones, then Allen.
The lead dropped to a point, at 93-92 and Wake had a chance to steal a game.
Jones said Duke got tougher. “We played harder, started talking more. We were more aggressive on that end.”
Jefferson said Duke drew a line in the sand.
Duke got the stops, Crawford missing a layup at 93-92, with 1:19 left.
Tatum made two foul shots, then Jefferson made the biggest sequence of the game, tough D inside on Crawford, an even tougher rebound and then two foul shots that gave Duke breathing room, at 97-92, with 14 seconds left.
“That’s what we have to do,” Jefferson said of the foul shots. “We’re here to be in pressure situations, to make big plays, to win games.”
Jefferson came into the game shooting 59 percent from the line for the season, 56 percent on his career.
“At the end of ball games, we’ve been really tough,” Krzyzewski said. “We’ve made winning stops, winning free throws, winning shots.”
Luke Kennard says Duke is still getting better.
“We’re a whole lot tougher, we’ve learned a lot, we’ve grown up a lot. We click, we stay connected, we stay together.”
Kennard led Duke with 23 points. He was joined in double figures by Tatum (19), Jefferson (16),
Jackson (12), Allen (11) and Jones (10).
Jefferson and Tatum led Duke with seven rebounds, Allen with six assists.
Bryant Crawford had 21 points for the Deacs but Matt Jones hounded him into an 8-19 shooting effort, 2-6 from beyond the arc.
Collins, on the other hand, torched Duke inside, 31 points, 15 rebounds, 13-18 from the field, 5-6 from the line.
Jefferson’s take on Collins?
“He’s really good. They do a really good job of finding him when he has a mismatch. He posts up well and has a soft touch.”
Collins has scored 20 or more points in his last 10 games.
Bolden didn’t play in the second half. “I would have used he and Harry more in the second half,” Krzyzewski said. “But we found something and I was afraid we might lose it.”
Jeff Capel II sat on the Duke bench and received the game ball. He is suffering from ALS.
It was Mike Krzyzewski’s idea.
Jefferson and Allen not practicing. K said if he were an NBA coach, he would sit them down for a couple of weeks. But the shorter college season has different parameters.
` The win gives Duke at least 10 ACC regular-season wins for the 10th straight season.
Jefferson ended the game with 978 career points, Kennard with 964 and Jones with 869.
Wake guard Mitchell Wilbekin sat out the game with a sprained ankle.
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- Duke holds off Wake Forest for 99-94 win
- No. 12 Duke holds on for victory over Wake Forest
- No. 12 Duke holds on for 99-94 win over Wake Forest