Duke came into LJVM Coliseum without a true road win on the season and after dropping their last game in awful fashion to the Miami Hurricanes at home, a get right game was definitely in order. Duke started the game hot, feeding the post and building an 8 point lead at the 15:51 mark on a Wendell Moore Jr free throw. Wake methodically bullied the Blue Devils and reclaimed the lead by 2 points but the Blue Devils seemed to come alive with a 13-6 run, fueled by 3-pointers by freshman Trevor Keels and AJ Griffin to end the half up 6 points.
Duke began the second half on a 20 to 6 run, capped off by an AJ Griffin 3-pointer to grow the lead to 20 and effectively put the game out of reach. The Demon Deacons would go on several runs but were never able to get within 11 points of the Blue Devils who notched their first road win 76-64.
The Blue Devils were paced by a pair of freshman in Paolo Banchero and AJ Griffin. Banchero scored a team high 24 points on 11-23 shooting, the freshman forward also pulled down 5 defensive rebounds. In his first collegiate start, AJ Griffin scored a career-high 22 points on 8-11 shooting, going 3-5 from beyond the arc. Trevor Keels also scored in double-figures despite leaving the game late in the second half with an undisclosed injury. Keels scored 11 points and dished 4 assists. Wendell Moore Jr. didn’t have an offensive explosion for the Blue Devils, scoring only 7 points but was able to grab 5 rebounds, dished 6 assists to 0 turnovers and nabbed 3 steals. The story for Wendell was his defensive effort on Alondes Williams – while Williams scored 25 points he did it on 23 shots and was only 1-4 from beyond the arc with 7 turnovers.
The Blue Devils as a team shot 47% from beyond the arc going 7-15, while only giving up 2-16 (13%) to Wake. The Blue Devils were under their season average in turnovers at 7 for the game while turning Wake over 15 times which lead to 15 points off of turnovers, 11 off of fast breaks. The Blue Devils were out-rebounded 36-29 and gave up 11 second change points while not scoring any.
The story of the beginning of the game was simple, the Demon Deacons pushed the Blue Devils around and by the end of the first half Duke stepped it up. The second half saw the Blue Devils push back, it was clear there was a concerted effort to be more physical and to finish through contact. It was obvious the Blue Devils were still suffering with tired legs from the COVID stoppage but Duke powered through for this win.
ASSOCIATE HEAD COACH JON SCHEYER
“Obviously, that was an exciting win for our team. It’s been a heck of a 24 hours, of course with the news with Coach [Mike Krzyzewski] not feeling well. We were hoping he was going to be able to make it to tonight’s game, but it turned out it was best for him to be at home and we’re looking forward to getting him back as quickly as possible. I think there was a lot of motivation coming off that Miami game with things that we can do better. We love how our team played the right way, made each other better on the offensive end, then defensively we really battled against a Wake Forest offense who is one of the best offenses in the ACC and best teams as well. I’m proud of our guys, specifically AJ Griffin, what he’s done working his tail off all season long. He never complained for one second, worked as hard – if not harder – than anybody on our team, so to see it translate on the floor tonight is really special.”
On Duke’s opening the second half with a 17-3 run:
“We talked a lot recently about end-of-half situations, coming out of the half and then end-of-game, just managing time and score and really having a sense of urgency. We made that spurt there to close the half out, which was really important to go into halftime with the lead. Then, coming out and getting all those defensive stops, I think we definitely knocked them back. That was really important. From there, we were really in control of the game. It’s been something that Coach K has emphasized, as a staff we’ve emphasized it and that carried over tonight.”
On inserting freshman AJ Griffin into the starting lineup:
“First of all, it gave us great size. That group that we put out there to begin the game, it’s a big team. Trevor Keels and Wendell Moore Jr., as your two smallest players – they’re big guards that can switch really well, switch one through four at times, one through five. AJ Griffin has just been coming on. He’s just been playing really well. We still need Jeremy [Roach] to come through big for us, and he did that in the second half. But it was really AJ’s emergence, the consistency that Mark Williams has had, and then really to spotlight and highlight Paolo Banchero. Paolo played a terrific game. I thought at the end there, he had a chance to have 30-plus [points]. But he really carried us, especially in the beginning of the game, the way he set the tone. I think that lineup helped and again, we’ll be ready to make changes as the season goes on.”
DUKE JUNIOR FORWARD WENDELL MOORE JR.
On bouncing back from a home loss on Saturday night:
“I really think this win was big for us, not just because we won but the way that we played as a team. Regardless of the fact that we won by 12, this game was so fun to play in as a team. It felt kind of like how we were playing at the beginning of the season. It was a lot of fun – guys sharing the ball, a lot of guys smiling. You don’t even know who’s scoring, you just know that Duke’s scoring. We’re getting stops at the other end. That’s what it’s about. Any time we come out and play like that, I think we’ll be a very hard team to beat.”
On if the final minute of the first half and opening minutes of the second half won the game for Duke:
“Yeah. I want to say in that span, I think we went on a 16-1 run or something like that. It all really started with our defense. Our defense led to easy shots on the offensive end, it gave guys confidence to come in and hit huge shots. Jeremy [Roach] came in and hit a huge three. Paolo [Banchero] and AJ [Griffin], they both played amazing tonight. I could go down the line and say everything about each guy who came in tonight because really, everybody who came in tonight gave us something. When you have something like that, like I said, we’re going to be a very tough team to beat going forward.”
On his individual matchups against Wake Forest guard Alondes Williams:
“A guy like Alondes [Williams], he’s a very good player. He has his own story of how he got there. It’s a tremendous story for him, so I know a guy like that is always going to come out and play hard. He really gave us all he had. We knew he was going to come out aggressive and give us a couple buckets, but we just wanted him to do it in volume. So really, that means for us, he took 21 shots to get 25 points, so we’re good with that because he’s taking more shots and there’s less shots that the other guys have to take. Tonight was a whole team effort. It wasn’t just me guarding him one-on-one – each guy had their turn at him. Collectively, I think we did a good job on him.”
DUKE FRESHMAN FORWARD PAOLO BANCHERO
On the team’s mindset coming out of halftime:
“I think the mindset in the second half was ‘Don’t let up.’ AJ [Griffin] hit a big shot to put us up six, so we had some good momentum. We didn’t want to let up because last time we were on the road against Ohio State, we were up 13 at halftime and obviously we know what happened. We didn’t want to have that happen again, and so we just wanted to come out and keep our foot on the gas.”
On how the starting lineup change affected the team:
“I think it affected us in a positive way. I think it gives us more size. It still gives us great shooting – AJ [Griffin] is a great shooter, as we saw today. He only missed three shots, so incredibly efficient scoring. Then, like I said, more size and more strength.”
On how he took advantage of Wake Forest’s defensive strategy:
“They were playing me kind of one-on-one, so I’m confident that I can win any one-on-one matchup. I just wanted to take advantage and be aggressive – that was my mindset coming into the game.”
DUKE FRESHMAN FORWARD AJ GRIFFIN
On when he found out he was in the starting lineup and if that changed anything about his preparation:
“I think I found out today. I was just prepared either way. Each game you prepare the same, and that’s to play your best with the minutes you get. It doesn’t matter if you start or come off the bench – it’s the same mentality.”
On if he knew he had enough time to get a shot off at the end of the first half:
“Yeah. I saw the clock when Wendell [Moore Jr.] was coming down with the ball, so I knew how much time. I think it really comes from playing 2K. I’m a gamer.”
On if he feels any different after playing a season-high 36 minutes:
“Pretty much the same, really. With the minutes, you always prepare yourself for those. Whether you’re practicing or playing, you’ve got to be prepared for any minute you get.”