It took 20 games into the season and the third road game in conference but Duke finally picked up a road victory but it wasn’t much to write home about.
Mason Plumlee scored a career high 32 points to help Duke capture its first road win of the season.
The No. 5 Blue Devils improved to 18-2 (5-2 ACC) with a 75-70 victory over Wake Forest, the Demon Deacons’ first loss at home this season. Duke survived a sloppy turnover and foul riddled game that kept defenses on both teams effectively out of the game.
Mason Plumlee scored a career high 32 points and grabbed 9 rebounds to lead Duke who survived despite foul trouble.
It was a game that could best be classified as disjointed due to what could only be described as a poorly or at least questionably officiated game for both teams. Wake Forest came out fired up looking to continue their impressive play at home. Last weak the Demon Deacons upset NC State on their home floor.
It looked early and late that the Deacons might be able to repeat the feat. Wake Forest shot 54 percent from the floor in the first half and finished the game just under 50 percent. Devin Thomas led the way for Wake scoring 15 points and grabbing 6 rebounds. CJ Harris and Travis McKie each chipped in 14 points apiece.
The combination of Duke’s foul trouble and the Deacon’s hot hands made the game much closer than many were expecting.
Seth Curry had a quiet 21 points and despite Duke’s poor shooting night from behind the three point line (14 percent) it was a three from Curry late that helped give the Blue Devils the slight edge going down the wire.
In the end a win is a win but it was certainly not Duke’s best effort and perhaps not the improvement Mike Krzyzewski had in mind after the strides they made against Maryland following their Miami beat down. Still a victory on the road in the ACC is crucial especially if Duke is going to try and keep pace with Miami and NC State, the two teams ahead of them in the standings.
Duke got very little from its two freshman which forced more from Plumlee and Curry. Amile Jefferson did not score in his 19 minutes of action and Rasheed Sulaimon (6 points) had clearly cooled off after his lights out performance against Maryland this past weekend. The Blue Devils can’t afford to have either of those guys not contribute in a given game as long as Ryan Kelly remains out of the lineup.
Perhaps the most alarming part of the game was Duke’s seeming inability to get a stop. Foul trouble contributed heavily to a lot of the easy baskets that Wake Forest managed to get, but at times poor foot work, communication, and execution brought back memories of last season’s team which was so bad defensively.
Duke doesn’t get much time to celebrate this victory, as they have to travel down to Tallahassee on Saturday to take on Florida State, a place that has been a house of horrors for the Blue Devils over the years.
The Blue Devils haven’t been particularly good on the road this season and part of that has been the inability to shoot the three point shot effectively and unless they can find some shooting rhythm it could be another scary trip to Florida.
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