Despite Deacons’ sophomore sensation John Collins getting to the rim at will and dropping 31 points, Duke was able to narrowly escape Wake Forest by a score of 99-94 on Saturday. The win extends Duke’s winning streak to seven games and keeps Duke only one game out of first place in the ACC.
The Blue Devils, led by Luke “Consistent” Kennard, were extremely impressive in this one… on one end of the floor. Duke shot a red hot 59% from the floor, 48% from three, and 87.5% from the line, but most telling was the assist to turnover ratio the Devil’s boasted. Duke tallied 19 assists while only turning the ball over 7 times. To put that into context, Duke had only 8 assists and 11 turnovers in a ten point win over UVA. In addition, Duke had six different players in double digits. This is the type of offensive efficiency that will get Duke far in the tournament.
Pitiful Defensive Effort
On the other end of the floor, however, the Blue Devils were very, very poor. Duke allowed a whopping 46 points in the paint and 94 points to a Wake Forest team that averages 82 ppg. In addition, Duke was able to force only four turnovers the entire game. Coach K and the Devils are lucky this atrocious defensive performance came against a mediocre team in Wake Forest and not against that school down the road… If Duke hopes to get wins over Syracuse, Miami, Florida State, or UNC (all teams ahead of Wake Forest in ACC play), they better hope the paint defense shows some major improvements.
Inability to Create and Maintain Separation
On paper, a seven game winning streak in the ACC sounds great. If you look a little closer, there is a frightening theme that continues to occur in these nail-biting contests: an inability to put teams away. The current seven game winning streak includes a two point win over Wake, an eight point win over Pitt, a two point win over Clemson, and this five point win over Wake. These games are far too close and if the Blue Devils continue to allow teams to stay in the game, it’s only a matter of time until this streak comes to an end. It has been over a month since the Blue Devils beat a team by more than ten points. If Duke wants to make a run against higher quality teams in March, they have to find a way to shut the door on teams when they get a chance.