Three definite positives from Duke basketball’s absurd loss at Wake Forest

Duke basketball (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /
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Duke basketball
Duke basketball (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

2. Duke’s loss showed who should shine more often

Against one of the four finalists in his recruitment, Duke basketball freshman forward Wendell Moore did the opposite of most of his teammates just by showing up. The 6-foot-6, 215-pound North Carolinian recorded a career-high 40 minutes and 25 points while resembling J.J. Redick from the charity stripe (15-for-16, bumping his percentage for the season to 78.7). Though he also turned the ball over five times, he accounted for three steals, five boards, and a large chunk of Duke’s rare hustle plays.

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In essence, what Moore proved in the loss to Wake Forest was the ability to serve as one important weapon the Blue Devils have regularly lacked: a confident, gifted slasher. By assuming that role in every game moving forward, the former five-star — who came to Duke with a No. 29 ranking on the 247Sports 2019 Composite but has been inconsistent on his way to averaging only 7.7 points and 4.2 rebounds to date — could become a go-to option on offense, especially whenever Vernon Carey Jr. is on the bench.

Granted, one would have liked to have seen Moore do more than he did in the four outings following his Dean Dome heroics: a combined one steal and 13 points (on 4-for-21 shooting). One would have thought his game-winner would have been the spark he needed to reach his full freshman potential, which would no doubt include loads of the type of headstrong drives and poised finishes off the glass he exhibited in Winston-Salem.

But that performance in Chapel Hill didn’t instantly translate into the steady stardom a specimen with Moore’s length, athleticism, and IQ should be able to produce. And his most potent performance didn’t ultimately lead to a W at Wake.

Even so, there’s a twinkle growing in the 18-year-old’s eyes that suggests he is ready to step it up in time for the Big Dance. The same goes for a Blue Devil who should from now on spend less time warming benches…