After their painful loss at the Carrier Dome, some feared that Duke were going to have a hard time adjusting to the inferior importance of their game against Wake Forest. However, a solid performance from Jabari Parker and a weak opponent paved the way to a 83-63 win.
Not very surprising; it was the 15th consecutive loss for Wake Forest on the road to Duke, all coming in double figures. They played without their leading scorer, Codi Miller-McIntyre, and after about 15 minutes couldn’t really keep up with Duke’s talent and shooting.
One thing Duke carried over from its loss in Syracuse was more impressive 3-point execution. They finished with 12-of-27 from beyond the arc, including Andre Dawkins connecting four times from beyond the arc. Parker led the way with 21 points, adding 8 rebounds on 8-of-10 from the field. Rasheed Sulaimon added 19 and Dawkins was the big contributor off the bench with 17 points.
One of Duke’s best player in the contest was Tyler Thornton, despite scoring only 3 points. Duke forced 19 turnovers on Wake Forest, and Thornton had 3 out of the team’s 10 steals in the game. He also added 5 assists.
Tyler really played like a senior captain today. He just set the tone for us. He’s been that kind of guy for his whole four years, and hopefully now, as we’re entering the last stages of these seniors’ careers, they step it up even more.
Life is easier for Duke when they don’t have to worry about closing down the paint too much, or at least try to. Wake Forest did grab 12 offensive rebounds and showed once again the kind of problem the Blue Devils have even against some of the smaller teams, but they didn’t have the players to really create a scoring issue for Duke down low.
Parker had a relatively easy time, not needing to force anything and dominating every time he went inside. He’s been in excellent form since the loss to Clemson, averaging 18.5 points and scoring over 20 points three times. Duke have lost only one game during that stretch.
It took us a while to get going, especially me, defensively. We didn’t do a good job of defending the post, and it really did show. … The second part of the first half, we really got through it, started to play defense and picked it up.
And that will continue to be the X-Factor for Duke. There’s talent on this team with Parker and Hood providing a bit more than just the outside shooting that’s always been a big part of most Duke teams, but their ability to defend and rebound in the paint might be the difference from making a real splash in the NCAA tournament for a second consecutive season or will this be another year in which it’s clear to see that Duke are good, but not more, and have no real shot of doing something special against the truly elite teams, which Duke usually sees itself as part of that group.