Abridged Game Preview
Duke Blue Devils (21-8, 10-6 (T5)] vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons [11-18, 2-15 (10)]
Tuesday, March 1, 2016 • 8:00 PM • ACC Network • Durham, NC• Cameron Indoor Stadium
By Randy Dunson [Note: Please direct comments, suggestions, etc. to @RandyDunson.]
Duke has fallen to 10-6 in the ACC, after being beaten up by Pittsburgh on Sunday, 76-62. They return home to face a Wake Forest team that has just two wins in the ACC this season. They lost at home to Virginia Tech on Sunday, 81-74. Duke won the first meeting against the Demon Deacons with ease on the road, 91-75 on January 6.
Duke will be heavily favored with 16 consecutive home wins over Wake Forest, which has also dropped 22 straight conference road games. The Blue Devils are the ACC’s second-highest scoring team at 81.6 points per game while the Demon Deacons allow a conference-worst 79.2.
Wake Forest senior power forward Devin Thomas (6-9, 255) returned from a two-game suspension to score 13 points and grab six rebounds, but it was not enough to beat Virginia Tech on Sunday. During Thomas’ suspension, where backup Cornelius Hudson (7.8 points) was dismissed, Wake Forest beat Boston College (74-48) without him on February 21. In their loss to the Hokies, Codi Miller-McIntyre scored 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting, while Bryant Crawford added 16 points for the Demon Deacs. Wake Forest shot 49.1 percent from the field, but they committed 19 turnovers and shot just 4-of-19 from the three-point line.
In the first game against Duke, the Blue Devils shot 51.7 percent from the field and 25-of-27 from the foul line. Miller-McIntyre scored 20 points to lead the Demon Deacons, who shot just 12-of-20 from the line. On the season, Wake Forest has a major issue with defense, as they allow 79.2 points per game and allow teams to shoot 44.4 percent from the floor.
Duke never showed up against Pittsburgh on Sunday. Pitt opened with a 10-0 lead and never looked back. The Panthers led 74-51 with 5:52 left in the game and held on from there as Duke closed on a 7-0 run to make the margin look more competitive. The 62 points that Duke scored on Sunday was tied for their lowest offensive output of the season. Guard Grayson Allen led the Blue Devils with 22 points, while freshman forward Brandon Ingram added 17 points. However, Duke shots just 37.5 percent from the field and they were outrebounded by 19.
In the first Wake Forest matchup, Allen (24 points), freshman Luke Kennard (23 points) and Ingram (17 points) all had big performances. Duke is tied with Notre Dame at 10-6 in the ACC for fifth place. Duke is No. 11 in the latest RPI rankings and has a shot at a No. 3 seed. Their lack of depth but come back to haunt them down the line unless forward Amile Jefferson returns from a foot injury. Offensively, they average 81.6 points per game and shoot 46.8 percent from the field (38.9% 3-point). Duke allows 71 points, 44.3 percent field goal shooting, and 34.2 percent from beyond the arc.
Rather than look at specific keys for this game, I will focus on the role that Marshall Plumlee played in the first game along with his role on Tuesday night. In some ways, I see him as being the possible X-factor.
Marshall Plumlee turned in the best shooting effort of his career and will be one of many players for the No. 17 Blue Devils that the visiting Demon Deacons will be hard-pressed to contain Tuesday night.
Duke cruised to its 11th win in the last 12 meetings with a 91-75 road victory Jan. 6. The 7-foot Plumlee made all seven shots from the floor and all four free throws for 18 points.
Plumlee is only the Blue Devils’ sixth-leading scorer, but coach Mike Krzyzewski may emphasize getting the ball inside more after Sunday’s 76-62 loss at Pittsburgh. Duke shot 37.5 percent, with 32 of its 48 attempts coming from 3-point range. “I would more like to complement what we do by the 3,” Krzyzewski said.
While Plumlee was perfect against the Demon Deacons, Grayson Allen is not too far behind from being so in his career. The sophomore guard has made 16 of 21 shots for 51 points in three matchups against Wake Forest.
It is hard to believe that Duke will end up not being ready to play after the debacle at Pitt. The Demon Deacons cannot stop anybody on the perimeter and their guard play is poor. Duke won by 16 in the first game without Jefferson and should have another easy win at home without him, 88-70.