Duke basketball dominates Wake Forest, keeps slim NCAAT hopes alive

Duke basketball forward Matthew Hurt (Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball forward Matthew Hurt (Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) /

Duke basketball picked up its second straight blowout victory on Wednesday night. 

The first Duke basketball game in the post-Jalen Johnson era was very similar to the last game in the Jalen Johnson era for the Blue Devils (9-8, 7-6 ACC).

Much like in Saturday’s victory over North Carolina State, Duke got out to a big lead over Wake Forest (6-10, 3-10 ACC) and never looked back thanks to sophomore star Matthew Hurt.

In the first matchup between Duke and Wake Forest this season, Hurt set a career-high with 26 points. He threatened to top that number in Winston-Salem, but due to the score discrepancy, his night was cut short.

Hurt finished with 22 points in 31 minutes during Duke’s 84-60 victory on 8-of-9 shooting and 3-of-4 from three-point range.

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Wendell Moore, DJ Steward, and Joey Baker all reached double-figures for the Blue Devils as the trio combined for 39 points.

Moore was 5-of-9 from the field, Steward was 7-of-12, and all of Baker’s seven attempts came from three-point range, in which he made four.

Freshmen Jaemyn Brakefield and Mark Williams continued their steady improvement with more playing time as Brakefield came off the bench and provided instant energy and offense with seven points, five rebounds, four assists, and one monstrous block on 3-of-5 shooting.

Williams remained in the starting lineup and nearly recorded a double-double with nine points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes.

Point guard Jeremy Roach was the only Blue Devil player to struggle with just two points on 1-of-6 shooting.

Duke basketball builds momentum into biggest game of season

Regardless of what your opinion on the Jalen Johnson situation is and how his presence on the court affected the Blue Devils, Duke is playing much better basketball in its last two games, specifically on the defensive end.

The Blue Devils look much more focused and comfortable on the floor, and there are a number of reasons that contribute to the better play.

However, there are still several issues at hand in potentially making the NCAA Tournament, most notably being Duke’s record and lack of quality wins.

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It appears as if Duke is still a long way from the NCAA Tournament bubble and potentially earning an at-large bid, but there is an opportunity to get back in the conversation this weekend.

If the Blue Devils wish to make the Big Dance without winning the ACC Tournament, a victory over No. 7 Virginia in Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday night is a must-win game. No questions asked.

Tipoff is scheduled for 8:00pm EST (ESPN).

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