Duke used an 18-2 run in the middle of the first half to break open a close game and cruise to an 84-60 win over Wake Forest Wednesday night. The win moves Duke back over .500 at 9-8 overall, 7-6 ACC and completes a two-game season sweep over the Deacons.
Lots of things went right for the Blue Devils. Matt Hurt continued his hot hand, hitting 8 of 9 from the field, 3 of 4 from beyond the arc. Hurt led everyone with 22 points. Over the last two games Hurt has made 9 of 11 from beyond the arc, something not in the skill set of most 6-9 players.
“It’s a lot about my teammates and my coaches,” Hurt said. “They put me in a great spot to score and get my shots. They do most of the work.”
“I’ve never played with a scorer like that,” D.J. Steward noted. “He really doesn’t miss at all, a lot of crazy shots.”
Hurt certainly was the beneficiary of an efficient and energetic offense. The Blue Devils had 17 assists against only six turnovers, while shooting 54 percent from the field and 44 percent on 3s.
“Just confidence,” Hurt said. “I think everyone is getting in the gym, getting extra shots in. . . Everyone on this team is unselfish. Early in the season we were turnover prone and the last couple of weeks we’ve counted on not turning the ball over, because if we do that, we’re going to be in good shape to win a game.”
But Duke didn’t just win the game on offense. Wake Forest came into the game on a hot streak from beyond the arc. They hit 13 triples against Florida State just a few days ago and a comparable performance was their best shot at beating the Blue Devils.
“That was our focus coming in,” Steward said. “We know they have a lot of good shooters, [Daivien] Williamson, ]Jonah] Antonio, and [Carter] Whitt, they’re going to make shots eventually and we just shut them down pretty much.”
Wake hit only 7 of 24 3-pointers. Antonio was 7 of 8 against Florida State, 1 for 3 against Duke. Whitt was 1 for 4, Ian Dubose 1 for 5.
“We changed our ball-screen defense a week ago to better suit this team,” Mike Krzyzewski said, “and our kids have really done this well.”
Duke never trailed but the game was tied at 11-11 after Whitt’s only made 3-pointer. Then Duke blew it open, holding Wake Forest to a single Dubose layup over a span of 6:34. Wake missed four 3-pointers and turned it over three times in this stretch.
On the other end of the floor Duke got a big lift off the bench from Jaemyn Brakefield, Jordan Goldwire and Joey Baker, the latter of whom overcame a nasty, first-half fall to hit 4 of 6 from beyond the arc.
“Everyone who played really helped us,” Krzyzewski said. “Jaemyn had that explosion. Actually that I thought he passed up some shots he should have taken. . . . Goldwire has been a key guy for us . . . four assists and one turnover, his assist-to-turnover ratio is outstanding. When he comes off the bench like that, that’s been a plus for us.”
Duke led 45-26 at the half. Wake lost head coach Steve Forbes to a bang-bang double technical foul but Duke was already up 36-22 when Forbes left.
Hurt scored seven quick points at the beginning of the second half, quelling any thoughts of a comeback. The second-half lead never dropped below 15 points.
Krzyzewski said he thinks his team has something good going on.
“After all those really tough, close loses, for these kids to have this great attitude, this work ethic, says something about them and we’ve just got to keep it going.”
Steward had perhaps his best game in a Duke uniform, 16 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, no turnovers, 7 of 12 from the field and shut-down defense.
Baker (12) and Wendell Moore (11) joined Hurt and Steward in double figures, while Brakefield stuffed the stat sheet with 7 points. 5 rebounds, 4 assists and a block. Classmate Mark Williams had another solid performance, again a starter, 9 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks. So, even with Jalen Johnson gone, Duke is still getting production from its freshmen.
Speaking of Johnson, Hurt, Steward and Krzyzewski all had positive things to say about the opt-out.
“He’s a brother to these guys,” Krzyzewski said, adding that “I’m a coach because of players. These kids should have the choice to do whatever they want. We’re going to give them our guidance and talk to them about it. I’m 100 percent behind him.”
Ody Oguma led Wake Forest with 14 points, while Williamson added 12 and Dubose 10.
Duke outrebounded Wake 37-28 and held the Deacons to 39 percent shooting from the field.
Virginia next, Saturday night in Cameron, a chance for the signature win that could burnish Duke’s NCAA hopes. If it’s played. Fingers crossed and masks on.
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- Hot Shooting Propels Duke Past Wake Forest, 84-60
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- POSTGAME NOTES (PDF)
- COACH K QUOTES (PDF)
- DUKE PLAYER QUOTES (PDF)
Player Of The Game vs. Wake Forest
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