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Game Preview: Duke Blue Devils vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

By January 7, 2015No Comments


Game Preview

Duke Blue Devils (13-0, 1-0] vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (8-7, 0-2]

Saturday, January 3. 2015 • 4:00 PM • ACC Network/ESPN3 • Winston Salem, N.C. • Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum (LJVM Coliseum)

By Randy Dunson

1. Snapshot


Duke (13-0, 1-0) faces Wake Forest (8-7, 0-2) Wednesday, January 7 in its first road conference game of the season. Tipoff is set for 9:00 PM with the ACC Network televising the contest. The Blue Devils look to begin the season with 14 straight wins for the seventh time in school history (all under Mike Krzyzewski). Duke enters the game ranked No. 2 in the AP Poll and the USA Today Coaches Poll. The Blue Devils are 119-18 when ranked No. 2 in the AP Poll. Wake Forest is unranked in both polls.

Wednesday’s contest marks the 242nd meeting between the two schools, making it the most-played series among ACC opponents. Duke has lost its ACC road opener in four of the past five seasons. Jahlil Okafor was named ACC Player & Rookie of the Week after averaging 26.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game in leading the Blue Devils to victories over Toledo, Wofford, and Boston College.

Wake Forest

Wake Forest continues its ACC home stand to start the new year as the Demon Deacons welcome in No. 2-ranked and undefeated Duke on Wednesday evening. Tip-off is scheduled for 9 PM at the LJVM Coliseum. The Deacons are coached by first year coach Danny Manning/

Wake Forest is hosting two top five-ranked teams in consecutive games for the first time in program history. Devin Thomas leads the ACC and ranks 21st nationally in rebounding with 9.7 RPG. Thomas leads the ACC with 7.5 defensive rebounds per game. Wake Forest ranks 18th nationally in rebounding margin (+8.8) and 21st nationally in rebounding (40.8 RPG). Mitchell Wilbekin is 8-for-14 (57 percent) from 3-point range over his last three games. He leads the team at 45 percent (23-of-51) on the season.
2. Team Seasons Thus Far

Duke Blue Devils

In its last outing, Jahlil Okafor scored a season-high 28 points and added eight rebounds to lead Duke to an 85-62 win over Boston College Saturday, Jan. 3. He was 7-of-11 from the field and 14-of-17 from the foul line to set a Duke freshman record for made free throws in a game. Quinn Cook (15), Justise Winslow (13), and Rasheed Sulaimon (11) also reached double figures. Cook and Sulaimon each knocked down three three-point field goals, while Winslow added seven rebounds, four assists, and two blocked shots. The Blue Devils blocked a season-high 10 shots in the game with Okafor and Marshall Plumlee each collecting four blocked shots.

Game Notes

  • Duke started 12-0 during the 2012, 2010, 2005, 2004, 2002, and 2001 seasons (since 1996)
  • The win over Wofford extended the Duke winning streak to 12 games
  • Duke beat the spread by seven points. That makes the 7th time this season the Blue Devils have beaten the spread
  • This was the sixth blowout win this season (a win by 20 or more points). Over the past five seasons, Duke has been on the winning end of 62 blowout games
  • The Blue Devils have recorded more rebounds than their opponents for the past nine games
  • This is the seventh game at home this season–Duke has a 33.9 average scoring margin against opponents at home
  • Tyus Jones recorded a team season high in steals with four
  • The top two scorers (Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow) accounted for 47.6 percent of the points
  • The top two rebounders (Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow) accounted for 44.1 percent of the rebounds
  • Jahlil Okafor has led the team in scoring six times and in rebounding 7 times in 12 games this season
  • Quinn Cook has three straight double-digit point games
  • This marks the fifth 20-point game of Jahlil Okafor’s career
  • Jahlil Okafor has 12 straight double-digit point games
  • Rasheed Sulaimon had a career high with a 100 percent three-point percentage.


Overall, several notable highlights, trends, and highlights continue to emerge as the season progresses:

Team Highlights

  • The Blue Devils are one of three remaining undefeated teams in the NCAA. Duke is the only team in the country to win each game by 10 or more points.
  • Duke has won each of the first 13 games by 10 or more points, marking the first time in program history it has accomplished that feat.
  • The Blue Devils have trailed for just 6:13  through the first 13 games of the season. Duke’s largest deficit this season has been four points.
  • Duke ranks first or second in the ACC in seven statistical categories (scoring offense, scoring margin, field goal percentage, three-point field goal percentage defense, assists, assist-to-turnover ratio, and turnover margin).
  • Duke has outrebounded its opponent in 12 of 13 games on the year and owns a +8.3 rebound margin. Michigan State is the only team to outrebound the Blue Devils this season.
  • The Blue Devils are shooting 55.4 percent (191-of-345) from the field in the second half of play, including 82.5 percent (52-of-63) shooting from Jahlil Okafor. He is 27-of-29 (.931) from the field after halftime over the past six games.
  • Duke is seeking its first 14-game win streak since the start of the 2012-13 season. Duke opened that season with 15 consecutive victories.

Individual Player Highlights

  • Freshmen Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor, and Justise Winslow have started all 13 games for the Blue Devils. Mike Krzyzewski has started three or more freshmen in a game 48 times at Duke, including 27 times during the 1982-83 season. The trio combines to average 41.9 points, 17.2 rebounds and 9.0 assists per game.
  • Okafor has scored 20 or more points in six of the last eight games and is averaging 21.8 points on 73.4 percent (69-of-94) shooting from the field in that span. He set a Duke ACC debut record with a season-high 28 points in Saturday’s win over Boston College.
  • Winslow is averaging 14.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game over the past two contests. He went 10-of-18 (.555) from the field, including 3-of-6 (.500) from three-point range, in that stretch.
  • Quinn Cook is averaging a career-high 14.5 points per game while also posting career bests in field goal percentage (.481), three-point field goal percentage (.395), three-point field goals (2.62 3PG) and free throw percentage (.962). He has scored in double figures 12 times this season.
  • Okafor has the highest field goal percentage (.682) in the NCAA among players attempting seven or more shots per game. Okafor has shot over 70.0 percent from the field in eight of Duke’s 13 games.
  • Cook has made at least one three-point field goal in each of the past 23 games. He is shooting 40.9 percent (56-of-137) from behind the arc in that stretch. Cook is second in the ACC in three-point field goals (2.62 3PG) and fifth in three-point percentage (.395) this season.
  • Guards Rasheed Sulaimon and Matt Jones combined for 19 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals in the win over Boston College. The tandem was 5-of-7 (.714) from three-point range as Duke’s bench outscored the Eagles, 22-5.
  • T. Jones is averaging 12.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 1.6 steals per game over the past seven contests. He is 20-of-43 (.463) from the field and 38-of-45 (.844) from the foul line in that stretch. Jones has four double figure scoring games, including a pair of 20-point efforts, in that span.

Wake Forest

In its last outing, Wake Forest is coming off an 85-76 loss to No. 5-ranked Louisville on Sunday in Winston-Salem. The Deacons rallied from 11 down at the half to take a 69-68 lead with 5:44 left to play, but the Cardinals put the game away with a 12-2 run over the next four minutes. Devin Thomas had a career night, posting a double-double with a career-high 31 points and 11 rebounds. Thomas was 11-for-14 from the floor and became the first Deacon in over four years to score 30+ points. Wake Forest’s second-half comeback was aided by its ability to take care of the ball. The Deacons had just three turnovers in the second half and 12 total for the game. Mitchell Wilbekin had no turnovers in 33 minutes. Codi Miller-McIntyre and Wilbekin scored 14 points apiece.
Game Notes

  • WFU beat the spread by 3.5 points. That makes the fifth time this season the Demon Deacons have beaten the spread.
  • Prior to this game, WFU played 24 Top 25 opponents in the last five seasons with a record of 7-17.
  • Wake Forest has lost 100 percent of the time this season (0-6) after recording 36 or fewer rebounds.
  • When the opposition shoots a field goal percentage of 50.0 percent or better this season, Wake Forest has lost 100 percent of the time (0-3).
  • When the opposition shoots a three-point percentage of 41.2 percent or better this season, Wake Forest has lost 100 percent of the time (0-3).
  • WFU set a season low for steals (4).
  • The Demon Deacons have recorded more rebounds than their opponents for the past six games.
  • This is the 10th game at home this season–WFU has a 7.6 average scoring margin against opponents at home.
  • Devin Thomas recorded a team season high in points with 31 and field goals made with 11.
  • Devin Thomas accounted for 40.7 percent of the team’s points.
  • Devin Thomas accounted for 30.5 percent of the team’s rebounds.
  • Devin Thomas has led the team in scoring five times and in rebounding 13 times in 15 games this season.
  • This marks the sixth 20-point game of Devin Thomas’s career.
  • Devin Thomas recorded a double-double. It was his fifth this season and 14th of his career.
  • Devin Thomas had career highs with 31 points and 11 field goals made.


Overall, several notable highlights, trends, and highlights continue to emerge as the season progresses:

Team Highlights

Deacons Improving In Turnover Category

  • Wake Forest’s ability to take care of the ball in the second half of the Louisville game is indicative of the Deacons’ upward trend in the category this season.
  • The Deacons had just three second-half turnovers and 12 total against a Louisville team that came in forcing nearly 19 turnovers per game.
  • Wake Forest has had 13 or fewer turnovers in six of the past seven games.
  • The Deacons began the year with 20+ turnovers in two of their first three games, including 20 against an Arkansas team that plays a similar pressing style to Louisville.
  • Freshman Mitchell Wilbekin has provided a steady hand in the backcourt.
  • He had no turnovers in 33 minutes against the Cardinals and just one in 31 minutes against Princeton.

Wake Forest vs. Top-Five Ranked Teams

  • Wake Forest has won two of its last four matchups against top five-ranked teams at the LJVM Coliseum.
  • The Deacons handed No. 2 Miami its first ACC loss of the 2012-13 season with an 80-65 win on Feb. 23, 2013.
  • After a home loss to No. 2 Syracuse in January last year, Wake Forest upset No. 4 Duke 82-72 on March 5. The Deacons came up just short on Sunday against No. 5 Louisville, falling 85-76 after a second-half rally.
  • Wake Forest currently ranks fourth in the ACC and 18th nationally in rebounding margin (+8.8). The Deacons also rank 21st nationally and third in the ACC in rebounds per game, pulling down 40.5 per game.
  • The Deacons lead the ACC in defensive rebounding percentage (.776).
  • They have won the rebounding battle in 11 of 15 games this season, going 8-3 in those games.
  • Devin Thomas leads the ACC and ranks 21st nationally in rebounding with 9.7 boards per game. Thomas also leads the ACC with 7.5 defensive rebounds per game.

Player Highlights

Codi Doing It All

  • Junior guard Codi Miller-McIntyre is known for his scoring with the strength and quickness to get to the rim at will.
  • However, lately Miller-McIntyre has also demonstrated his rebounding prowess.
  • Miller-McIntyre is averaging 5.2 rebounds per game, a remarkable number for a 6-3 guard.
  • Miller-McIntyre has pulled down eight rebounds or more in three of the past four games, averaging 7.3 per contest over the stretch.
  • The Concord, N.C. native flirted with a triple-double against Princeton, finishing with nine points, nine rebounds and a career-high 11 assists.
  • Miller-McIntyre has shouldered much of the offensive load this year for the Deacons.
  • The junior guard has scored in double figures in 10 of the past 12 games, which includes two 20-point performances.
  • He leads the team and ranks 22nd in the ACC with 13.1 points per game.

Devin Thomas Is One Of ACC’s Best Big Men

  • Devin Thomas continues to show why he is one of the most underrated big men around.
  • This time, Thomas turned in a career-high 31 points on 11-of-14 shooting and to go with 11 rebounds against No. 5 Louisville.
  • Thomas leads the ACC with 9.7 rebounds per game, and he is also tops with 7.5 defensive rebounds per game.
  • Thomas has five double-doubles on the season and 14 for his career, both of which rank second in the ACC.
  • Thomas has 629 career rebounds to rank 24th all-time in school history. He ranks second among active ACC players but most among the junior class.
  • At his current pace, Thomas has a chance at reaching 800 career rebounds this season.
  • He would be just the sixth player in school history to accomplish the feat in three seasons.
  • Thomas’ 22 career double-figure rebounding games lead all active ACC players.

Wilbekin Catching Fire

  • Freshman Mitchell Wilbekin has quietly put together a productive freshman season thus far.
  • He is the team’s third leading scorer with 8.5 PPG and the best 3-point shooter at 45 percent (23-of-51).
  • Wilbekin also leads the team and ranks 10th in the ACC with 1.7 steals per game.
  • Since returning to the court on December 31 after completing his three-game NCAA suspension, Wilbekin has averaged 13 points while shooting 6-for-11 from 3-point range and committing just one turnover in two games.

Freshmen Proving Outside Shooting

  • Freshmen Cornelius Hudson, Konstantinos Mitoglou and Mitchell Wilbekin have provided the bulk of long-range shooting for the Deacons this season.
  • The three have combined to make 52 of Wake Forest’s 83 3-pointers this season.
  • Against Princeton, the three freshmen combined to go 8-for-18 (44%) from 3-point range.
  • Wilbekin is the team’s top 3-point threat, going 23-for-51 for 45 percent on the season.
  • Hudson is 16-of-54 (30 percent) and Mitoglou is 13-of-41 (32 percent) on the season.
  • Outside of the three freshmen, graduate student Darius Leonard is also an outside shooting threat. Leonard is 13-for-39 for 33 percent on the year.

3. Head-to-Head

Duke leads the all-time series with Wake Forest, 163-78. The teams split the season series in 2013-14 with each squad winning at home. Wake Forest snapped an eight-game losing streak to the Blue Devils with its 82-72 upset of No. 4-ranked Duke on March 5, 2014. Wake Forest has won six of the last 10 meetings at the LJVM Coliseum since 2002-03. Five of the six wins came with Duke ranked in the top five in the country. The Wake Forest-Duke series is the oldest in the ACC, dating back to the 1906 season. The series is also the league’s most frequently played, as it is in its 242nd all-time meeting. With the recent ACC expansion, Wake Forest and Duke are now annual rivals who will play home-and-home games every season. Wake Forest’s two annual conference rivals are Duke and NC State.

In terms of a few key offensive and defensive statistical parameters, Duke predominates in all except for RPG (first team to date to have a higher total), which gives the Blue Devils a significant statistical edge head-to-head.


Duke 2014-15 Regular Season Key Stats Comparison Wake Forest
85.3 (+24.7) PPG (Scoring Margin) 70.6 (+2.9)
60.6 Opponents PPG 67.7
59.3 Effective FG% 47.6
52.4 FG% 42.7
40.9 Opponent FG% 43.7
38.5 3PT FG% 33.5
27.1 Opponent 3PT FG% 29.5
37.8 (+8.3) RPG (Rebound Margin) 40.5 (+8.8)
29.5 Opponent RPG 31.7
17.1 APG 13.7
8.2 SPG 7.7
11.0 (+3.2) Turnovers Per Game (Margin) 14.9 (-9)
14.2 Opponent TOPG 14.0
4.2 BPG 4.3


4. Four Factors to Winning

[If you wish to learn more about how the four factors are calculated and implemented, a description can always be found here,]

 Duke-Wake 4Fs

Duke holds a significant edge in all but one of the factors. When looking at eFG%, it is 59.3% to 47.6%. In terms of handling the ball, edge is 16.3% vs. 21.1%. In offensive rebounding, the edge is 38.9% vs. 35.3%. Wake has an edge when it comes to getting to the free throw line (48.7% vs. 45.4%).

5.  Key Points to Consider

First, a few points regarding both team’s overall profile at this point:


  • Highly efficient attack
  • Stingy defense
  • Commits few fouls

Wake Forest

  • Stingy Defense

Now, a few key points to consider (refer to the Endgame). These may often carry over to future games but keys specific to a current opponent will always be mentioned.

  • Freshmen response to hostile environment
    • Addressed overall last week
    • First true test in an ACC environment on the road
  • Effective bench production
    • Sulaimon and M. Jones shined against BC off the bench
    • Need even more production when the well goes dry
  • Must get off to a quick start
    • A no brainer
    • Particularly playing away from home, revving the engine quickly crucial
  • Rebounding
    • Playing against first team ranked higher than them in rebound
    • Must do a very good job of team rebounding; Jefferson & Okafor cannot do it all
  • Defensive intensity for 40 minutes
    • Coach K has mentioned this in pressers numerous times
    • While they play very good defense at times, a full 40 minutes would bode well

 6. Endgame

For No. 2 Duke, its first 13 games have resulted in 13 double-digit victories. However, Wednesday’s game against Wake Forest will present the first ACC road contest for the Blue Devils’ impressive group of freshmen. The leader of the bunch is Jahlil Okafor, who tops the nation in field-goal percentage (68.2) and averages team highs of 19.5 points and 8.7 rebounds. Okafor scored a season-high 28 points in Saturday’s 23-point win against Boston College, while fellow first-year player Justise Winslow chipped in 13 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two blocks.
“I don’t think I was any more aggressive than I have been,” Okafor said after the game. “The coaches, they informed me that (ACC play) was going to be another intensity level.” Okafor and company should find a nice offensive rhythm against a Demon Deacons team that ranks 215th in the nation in points allowed (67.7).

Krzyzewski, four wins shy of 1,000 overall, still believes his team has lessons to learn through ACC play.

“This is a really good, outstanding young team that has a chance to become a really good team,” the coach said. “It’s won obviously its first 13 games but it’s young and doesn’t have the habits that a veteran team would have. “Most people don’t see that because they see us winning but we see it and I know our opponents see it. We’re definitely a ways away from being an outstanding team.”

Duke had an eight-game win streak over Wake Forest snapped late last season. That said, the second-ranked Blue Devils appear to be significantly better at this point playing a Demon Deacons team enduring its worst ACC start in four seasons. In that loss, two players had a significant role, Codi Miller-McIntyre and Devin Thomas. Slowing down Thomas could be difficult after the junior forward scored a career-high 31 points in Sunday’s 85-76 defeat to No. 5 Louisville.

The Blue Devils have plenty of quality options from outside the arc. Quinn Cook (39.5 percent), Winslow (39 percent) and freshman Tyus Jones (37.8 percent) are all dangerous from long range, while Rasheed Sulaimon (41.9) and Matt Jones (41.4) have enjoyed success in limited attempts. Cook has made multiple 3-pointers in four straight games and ranks second on the team in scoring (14.5) while shooting 48.1 percent from the floor.

The Demon Deacons hung tough against No. 5 Louisville on Sunday, dropping an 85-76 decision despite a career-high 31 points from Devin Thomas. “We could play with anybody with that effort,” Thomas told reporters after his team was doomed by 3-of-15 3-point shooting and 17-of-32 foul shooting. “We’ve just got to be better with details, the scouting report, and we’ve got to learn how to finish games.” Thomas (12.1 points) is the second-leading scorer for Wake Forest behind Codi Miller-McIntyre (13.1), although each shoots below 60 percent from the foul line.

As long as Duke can at least match Wake in rebounding and does not go into a 3-point shooting slump, this game could end up being an impressive win.

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