It’s hard to feel bad about a win but after coming down off the high of an exciting last second tip in from sophomore Mark Williams it didn’t feel…fulfilling. The fact that Duke let a 19 point win slip completely away off of bad decisions, scoring droughts and turnovers is for lak of a better word, troubling. Cameron Indoor Stadium used to be a place where Duke would “put it on” teams but this season that home court advantage that was Cameron hasn’t been there. Duke has dropped 2 games at home and against Wake it was very nearly a 3rd.
Duke led by 9 at the half, would have been 12 but a defensive breakdown on a side out of bounds left Jake Laravia open for 3. The Blue Devils came out and played the second half for the first 5 minutes well. Duke began the half on a 15-5 run building a 19 point lead. Duke have several long stretches where they couldn’t score the basketball. 3 droughts of around 2 minutes and one that spanned nearly 4. As good a team as Duke is defensively, it’s hard to continue defending at a high level when you aren’t scoring the basketball. Wake didn’t light it up from 3 but Duke allowed them 11 points off of turnovers triggering the Wake fast break. 4 of Duke’s 11 turnovers were in the crucial last 2:14 of the game leading to 6 Wake Forest points.
Duke was led by junior Wendell Moore and sophomore Mark Williams who scored 16 each. Moore added 5 assists and Williams added 10 rebounds. Paolo Banchero scored 13 points all in the second half on a less than efficient shooting night for the freshman who went 2-10, Banchero did have 6 assists and 2 blocks.
What’s clear for the Blue Devils is that there is still a lot to be learned and a lot to work on. They were able to pull out a tough 2 point win against the Demon Deacons but nearly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. This team has time to figure it out but that time day by day is growing shorter, the silver lining is that Duke has played exceptionally well on the road and in neutral sites which bodes well for tournament play. If Duke is going to be a team that goes far in either tournament they need to work on why they have extensive scoring droughts and why they seem to cycle down with a lead. Those are bad habits that have to be addressed.