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After A Slow Start, Duke Decks Deacs In The Second Half

Wake Forest was good for about 18 minutes of competitive basketball.

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Duke v Wake Forest
WINSTON-SALEM, NC - JANUARY 08: Zion Williamson #1 of the Duke Blue Devils puts up a shot against Ikenna Smart #35 of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in the second half at LJVM Coliseum Complex on January 8, 2019 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Duke won 87-65
Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

Duke ran its ACC record to 2-0 Tuesday night with an 87-65 win over Wake Forest. The win was Duke’s eighth straight and runs the Blue Devils overall record to 13-1.

Wake falls to 0-2 and 7-7.

Now 2-0 doesn’t sound all that impressive. But its a threshold neither of the last two Duke teams met, the 2017 team losing its ACC opener at Virginia Tech and last year’s team losing its ACC opener at Boston College.

A pretty compelling case can be made that 2019 Wake Forest isn’t as good as 2017 Virginia Tech or 2018 Boston College. But I’ve always maintained that there’s no such thing as a bad ACC road win, certainly not a 22-point win.

And we get that whole haven’t-played-a-true-road-game-narrative out of the way,

There are some teachable moments. Too many fouls (22), too many turnovers (17), poor foul-shooting (8-16). The talent differential between Duke and Wake is so great that none of these much mattered. But with a blink-and-you-miss-it schedule that includes games against Florida State, Syracuse and Virginia over the next 11 days, there will need to be some tightening up.

Duke sometimes looks like a championship boxer, probing for weaknesses early, then gradually exploiting what it finds, eventually wearing down an over-matched opponent.

As with Clemson and others this season, Duke trailed early, never by very much, but still behind, before ending the first half on a run, 14-6, to take a 42-34 lead into the locker room.

The recipe was a familiar one. Zion Williamson made some highlight-reel plays, R.J. Barrett kept up his relentless attack and Tre Jones ran the team with aplomb. Although bothered by fouls, Cam Reddish showed some signs of breaking out of his slump, 4-for-9 overall, 2-for-7 from beyond the arc, both makes in the first half, including a bomb right before the half that extended Duke’s lead from five to eight.

And the blocks. Thirteen more, five by Jack White, two on one first-half possession.

The Aussie Sultan of Swat?

The second half was pretty much what we expected. I could cut-and-paste this from most of Duke’s games this season but the second-half lead just kept getting bigger and bigger, 50-36, then 57-41, 67-45, 73-48. Once Duke got the lead to double-digits, it never again dropped into single digits.


Javin DeLaurier went 3-for-3 from the field, all high-percentage. He’s now 30-for-34 on the season and has made 19 straight, one shy of the ACC and school record set by Alaa Abdelnaby.

DeLaurier also had nine rebounds, two shy of his career high against Elon last season.

Williamson led everyone with 30 points and 10 rebounds, hitting 13-of-16 from the field. That’s 67.9 percent on the season and even made 3-of-4 from 3-point land. He also had five assists and four steals, albeit with four turnovers

Barrett added 21 points and seven assists.

Tre Jones? Seven assists, one turnover, about his season averages,

Duke has actually played Wake Forest more than any other opponent. Duke is now 172-78 against the Deacs. That includes a 50-39 mark in Winston-Salem. Duke has won eight straight, 17 of the last 18.


Player Of The Game vs. Wake Forest

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    Javin DeLaurier
    (7 votes)
  • 1%
    RJ Barrett
    (7 votes)
  • 0%
    Cam Reddish
    (4 votes)
  • 85%
    Zion Williamson
    (595 votes)
  • 4%
    Tre Jones
    (31 votes)
  • 4%
    Jack White
    (28 votes)
  • 2%
    Marques Bolden
    (20 votes)
  • 0%
    Jordan Goldwire
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Alex O’ Connell
    (2 votes)
697 votes total Vote Now

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