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Call It Deacon Blues: Duke Beats Wake, 77-69

An erratic at times but very promising performance by the Blue Devils

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Wake Forest v Duke
DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 12: Caleb Foster #1 of the Duke Blue Devils drives to the basket between Hunter Sallis #23 and Cameron Hildreth #2 of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons during the second half of the game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 12, 2024 in Durham, North Carolina. Duke won 77-69.
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

It’s not always easy to understand a team via television. Take Wake Forest.

The Deacons are tall, quick and talented. You don’t realize how difficult they are until you see them in person.

Duke certainly had its hands full with Wake before winning 77-69 and in particular with Hunter Sallis, who hit for 22, shooting 10-20 overall and 2-5 for threes.

But Duke put a lot of pressure on a very big, athletic and physical team. It might have been strategic on Wake’s part for some reason, but the Demon Deacons started out with seven early three point attempts, missing them all.

But Wake countered Duke with a very physical approach. It wasn’t over the line or anything, but it got the home crowd worked up.

Wake Forest pulled off nine steals but even then often had trouble capitalizing on them.

For the game, the Deacs shot 39.1 percent overall and hit just 6-26 on threes.

Sallis got his points but Kevin Miller hit just 1-7 for three points and Cameron Hildreth was just 1-9 for six points, including four from the line.

He also had six rebounds and three steals and while he didn’t score a lot, that guy has got some real swagger in the lane. We saw it last year and this year he’s pretty cocky about it and he’s got the right. If he could have scored more on his forays into big man land, Hildreth would have been devastating.

Duke got a break with foul trouble. We don’t comment on officiating unless it is on a game-deciding call, but we did notice some people on press row who had a few things to say on Twitter about it.

Reid fouled out and only played 15 minutes while Carr got 28 in before he had to leave.

We enjoyed Domari Monsanto’s play. That guy has been through hell and back and if he wants to fire up threes, we say let him. It’s just nice to see him play again.

Parker Friedrichsen was also impressive off the bench. You’re going to hear from that guy.

As for Duke, there were some flaws as there are in every game, but Duke did well, not least of all on defense as we mentioned.

Offense was more of a mixed bag.

Duke shot 47.3 percent overall and fired up 25 threes, making seven. Some of the credit for that goes to Wake’s defense obviously.

Remember what we said about Duke having trouble scoring inside?

Mark Mitchell addressed that nicely Monday night. At a certain point in the game, he realized that Wake didn't really have anyone to match up with his particular strengths and he started attacking the basket. That was a pretty great thing to see. He finished with 23 points, matching his career high, and eight boards.

After his one-rebound game against Boston College, Kyle Filipowski seemed determined not to let that happen again and he got 10 rebounds, including three offensive.

But Jared McCain is becoming a really good rebounder too: he matched Filipowski with 10, grabbing eight in the first half alone. He finished with 17 points, shooting 4-10/3-7 and hit all six of his free throws, including four big ones down the stretch.

It’s time to ask this question: is he now Duke’s best player? He’s improved that much.

Jeremy Roach mostly had a quiet game but it was a senior game too. He took charge when he needed to and helped to overcome periodic Wake surges. He finished with 12 points, shooting 5-8/2-4 and also had five assists.

Tyrese Proctor didn’t score but that’s no big deal. He took a nasty fall in the first half and you could hear the impact all around the gym. He stayed down as both teams rushed to Wake’s basket and on that end, another Duke player - we can't remember who -was decked too.

It’s the first time we can remember two guys being taken out like that, first one end of the court and then the other.

We didn’t think Proctor would play again after seeing him looking woozy on the bench, but he played in the second half, which was impressive.

Caleb Foster came off the bench for 26 minutes and while he didn’t score a lot, he helped defend Wake’s perimeter.

Sean Stewart played two minutes, got two fouls, and sat back down for the rest of the game. Ryan Young got in for two and Jaylen Blakes got in briefly as well.

As we said, there were things to clean up. There were some sloppy passes, including a Filipowski turnover with :41 left that you could kind of see coming because he was clearly trying to get out of a situation and he panicked a little bit.

Wake could have cut the lead to two on that Monsanto steal but he fired up a three that missed and then another six seconds later that also missed. Mitchell got that rebound and that was basically the last chance the Deacons had.

There were some lapses in concentration too but more of the mistakes had to do with how fast and how strong Wake Forest is. They put a lot of pressure on you in various different ways.

It reminded us to an extent of the Tennessee game last year, only faster. But Duke was able to answer all the challenges this time.

Jon Scheyer had a couple of funny moments. At one point there was a call that the whole gym (surprise) thought the refs got wrong. He stepped on to the court to register his displeasure, pointing the refs to the replay on the scoreboard. We don’t ever remember seeng that before.

And then when Hildreth didn't bother to throw the ball back to the other baseline so that Duke could bring it it, Scheyer stepped out and threw it back himself - then whipped the crowd into a frenzy.

Both moments were great.

After the game, Scheyer praised Wake Forest and called them an absolute tournament team and it’s hard to argue. That’s a very good team. We hope they make it.

Notes - Reid is not a particularly agile big man, but he can be effective inside...however he got in early foul trouble which hurt Wake...Kevin Miller is obviously a talented player but he made minimal impact on the game...Scheyer’s two moments will change the way we perceive him...check out this comment from his presser...“I [think] this group – and look, that’s on us to prove it – we’ll be right there at the end of this thing...I’m just telling you guys. I believe in these guys so much...We’ve been through a lot in the first two years...This is my first two years...The support of the crowd has been incredible...And this was a key game for us...It was a key moment...”

Poll

Player Of The Game vs. Wake Forest

  • 74%
    Mark Mitchell
    (300 votes)
  • 3%
    Kyle Filipowski
    (16 votes)
  • 0%
    Tyrese Proctor
    (4 votes)
  • 17%
    Jared McCain
    (71 votes)
  • 0%
    Jeremy Roach
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    Sean Stewart
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    TJ Power
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Ryan Young
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Caleb Foster
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Jaylen Blakes
    (2 votes)
403 votes total Vote Now