There are certain teams that just Duke well and this year that team is Wake Forest. Wake is a team that is clearly a bounce or two away from being in the top half of the ACC and maybe a player away from being a contender. The man against Duke was John Collins. Collins scored 31 against Duke in Cameron after dropping 20 in the game at Wake. Wake kept Duke on their heels the entire game matching every attempt by Duke to get a working margin with a run of their own.
Duke has clearly figured things out on the offensive end but defensively Duke is very much a work in progress. A lot of that, at least today, had to do with how well Wake Forest played offensively. Neither team managed to get many stops but Duke continued to put offensive pressure on Wake with their ability to knock down the 3 point shot. Once again Duke would need Luke Kennard down the stretch to win the game. Kennard was 9 of 15 in the game for 23 points and 3 of 7 from 3-point range. Duke also needed all 19 from Jayson Tatum who was 6 of 11 and 3 of 5 from range. Tatum also pulled down 7 rebounds. Grayson Allen didn’t have a monster game in the scoring column scoring 11 points but he led Duke in assists with 6.
Huge for the Blue Devils was the contribution of freshman Frank Jackson who scored 12 off the bench. Marques Bolden also scored 6 points off the bench contributing to the 20 point bench effort. Wake Forest had the advantage in points in the paint (46-38, points off of turnovers (12-4), second chance points (19-12) and fast break points (8-6). Wake even had the advantage in free throw attempts and makes. Duke’s advantage came from beyond the arc where they were 13 of 27.
Duke would inch out the victory 99-94 for their 7th straight win but with the win more questions remain on the defensive end. Defense is something Duke will have to work towards improving in the last few games of this ACC season. Stopping dribble penetration, defending ball screens and pick and rolls essentially have been the kryptonite for Duke, they’ve had to outscore and essentially at times trade 2’s for 3’s. Improvements will be needed for an extended tourney run.