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Duke Survives Wake Forest In A GameThat Very Nearly Slipped Away

The Blue Devils just gave Wake every possible chance to win late.

Wake Forest v Duke
 DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 15: Wendell Moore Jr. #0 of the Duke Blue Devils leans in to draw contact as he shoots over Damari Monsanto #30 of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons during the second half at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 15, 2022 in Durham, North Carolina. Duke won 76-74.
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

A win is a win is a win and all that.

But words like “escaped” and “survived” seemed apropos.

Mark Williams slammed home a Paolo Banchero miss to give Duke a 76-74 win over Wake Forest Tuesday night in Cameron.

With 0.4 seconds left. And then a desperation Wake 3-pointer drew iron and it might have counted or its might not have and at least no one had to go to the monitor and find out.

Because the basketball gods were kind to Duke this night.

But only after the Deacons erased all of a 19-point second-half Duke lead and after they erased all of a nine-point Duke lead with only 3:58 left.

Like Duke’s three losses at the buzzer this season it was little bit push, a little bit pull. Wake certainly took advantage of the opportunities Duke presented them.

“We kept battling” Deacons coach Steve Forbes said and nobody could deny them that.

But my goodness did Duke make some low-IQ plays down the stretch, shooting when they should have held the ball, holding the ball when they should have shot it and doing more then their share of standing around and doing nothing.

Duke played the second half with Jon Scheyer at the helm after an ill Mike Krzyzewski sat out the second half.

Duke didn’t say much about Krzyzewski’s status other than that he needed to rest, remained in the building and communicated with the team. There were references to IVs but nothing official.

It should be noted that Duke got that 57-38 lead by playing some of their best basketball of the season, moving the ball on offense, hitting shots and getting stops.

The teams traded baskets for about the first 10 minutes before Duke began opening up a lead, 18-13 then 26-15 then 35-23. But Indiana State transfer Jake LaRavia kept the visitors in the game, scoring seven points in the final 85 seconds of the half, including a 3 at the buzzer to get Wake’s deficit into single digits at 42-33.

It didn’t seem to matter much when Duke exploded out of the locker room for the second half. Foul-plagued Paolo Banchero was scoreless at halftime, with an equal number of rebounds. But Banchero had 10 points in a little over six minutes and Duke appeared to have the game under control.

Forbes said Wake turned around the game by going big and making it hard for Duke to score.

“We changed the game when we put our big lineup on the floor about the last 10 minutes to defend and rebound. It caused them some problems.”

Scheyer conceded the point.

“There’s not many teams in the country that can put out that much size at every position. There are certain plays that you think are there and you get up close and their length bothered us.”

How to counter that?

“Reads, knowing that when they come over to help, there are kicks there and I thought we missed a couple of those. We wants our guys attacking and getting downhill.”

Duke’s biggest lead came with 14:46 left and it was still 61-46 with 10:57 remaining. But seven-footer Dallas Walton hit two triples and then LaRavia again and in a matter of less than two minutes Duke’s lead was down to six.

The visitors got as close as a basket at 63-61 but their comeback seemed to run out of steam. Trevor Keels (5 points) and Moore (4) led a 9-2 Duke run and it was time to close the deal.

But neither team was cooperating. Wake kept pushing while Duke’s freshmen looked like freshmen, the Blue Devils turning it over on four consecutive possessions, a shot-clock and a backcourt among them.

“I think there were a couple of plays just managing time and score,” Scheyer said. “If we get stops it puts us in a different position to finish off that game. I think we got a little panicked down the stretch making quick plays. When we have poise and break the defense down, we’re a tough team to defend.”

Moore said Duke’s late-game lapses were more on the defensive end.

“We weren’t playing with the same intensity as we were in the first half. We gave them some easy looks.”

But Moore also acknowledged that Duke’s late-game offense “needed to be smarter as a team.”

Alondes Williams tied it from the line at 74-74 with 20 seconds left.

Scheyer said the strategy was simple.

“We wanted to get Paolo attacking downhill. A.J. [Griffin] was on the same side. If they helped off, we’ve got A.J. there and it they weren’t going to help off and he’s open, it’s got a great chance to go in.”

Banchero said he thought his contested lay-up was good when it left his hand.

But it wasn’t and the Superman cape was available for someone else.

Mark Williams grabbed it.

“Obviously, we knew we wanted to get the last shot,” Williams said. “The worst-case scenario was to have overtime. He put it up and missed and I just got the put-back. I got it off the rim.”

Still, the win gave Duke a two-game sweep over a top conference foe. Duke is 22-4, 12-3 in the ACC, Wake 20-7 and 10-6.

“They weren’t going to go away easily,” Scheyer said of the visitors. “Once it got close, I think we did a good job of figuring out a way to win. Sometimes it’s not the prettiest, not the smoothest but you figure it out.”

Duke put five players in double figures, Moore (16), Williams (16), Banchero (13), Griffin (12-all in the first half) and Jeremy Roach (10). Williams had 10 rebounds.

LaRavia, the other Williams and Walton led Wake with 19, 18 and 17 points respectively. The teams were basically even in most categories except Duke made 16 of 19 from the line, Wake 8 of 10.

Florida State next, Saturday night in Cameron where maybe, perhaps, perchance, Duke can notch a home win that doesn’t set off the pacemakers in the crowd.

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Player Of The Game vs. Wake Forest

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Wendell Moore
    (38 votes)
  • 1%
    AJ Griffin
    (8 votes)
  • 0%
    Paolo Banchero
    (5 votes)
  • 85%
    Mark Williams
    (488 votes)
  • 1%
    Trevor Keels
    (8 votes)
  • 0%
    Joey Baker
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    Theo John
    (1 vote)
  • 1%
    Bates Jones
    (11 votes)
  • 1%
    Jeremy Roach
    (10 votes)
573 votes total Vote Now