Duke Basketball: Amidst Coach K’s Absence, Blue Devils Handle Wake Forest at Home

DURHAM, NC - JANUARY 13: Grayson Allen
DURHAM, NC - JANUARY 13: Grayson Allen /

The Duke basketball team entered today’s game against Wake Forest without Coach K in this one. Thus far, Duke has been wildly inconsistent in conference play due to the heavy contention faced on a weekly basis. Duke came into this game having previously won a key game on the road against Pittsburgh, while Wake Forest has been struggling as of late losing three straight.

Duke’s play has significantly changed over the last two games. With Coach K out due to illness, interim Head Coach Jeff Capel opted to use his bench more frequently and for good reason. While backup point guard Jordan Goldwire still did not log a heavy amount of minutes, fellow freshman Alex O’Connell made the most of his opportunity once again. O’Connell has a combined 21 points in the previous two games against Pittsburgh and Wake Forest. O’Connell has provided a much needed scoring asset off the bench for the Blue Devils. With both Marques Bolden and Javin DeLaurier out due to injuries, O’Connell and Duke have been taking that next man up mentality.

Wendell Carter Jr and Marvin Bagley once again were dominant on the offensive and defensive side of the ball as they combined for 45 points and 22 rebounds. This frontcourt tandem is arguably the best in the country. The duo of Carter Jr and Bagley is unparalleled and continues to be the focal point of the Blue Devil offense. While Grayson Allen struggled from the field shooting 0-5, specifically 0-3 from deep, he filled the stat sheet 12 rebounds and 8 assists. Fellow backcourt freshman Gary Trent Jr also added 19 points of his own while shooting 6 of 7 from three-point range.

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Duke has a plethora of weapons and that was evident in their past two victories. That next man up mentality has paid dividends as this team is slowly beginning to gel together. While O’Connell was a major factor with his bench contributions, Duke also made 27 of their 34 free throws. Wake Forest, on the other hand, only made 7 free throws on 9 attempts. In addition to their prolific shooting night, Duke also outrebounded the Demon Deacons by a vast 45-36. Duke has excelled in this category all season and expect that to continue on Monday night against the now #18 ranked Miami Hurricanes.

Next: Initial Reaction for Duke vs. Wake Forest

Duke now heads back on the road to face Miami in what will be a major test for this team. Miami has only one loss at home season and will look to get back on track after losing to Clemson today in a close one. Duke will not have much preparation time for Monday nights game, which means both Bolden and DeLaurier will likely be out. This will be a heated battle between two of the ACC’s most talented programs.