PREVIEW: Duke (12-2) v Wake Forest (9-4)

The Blue Devils will play a second straight road game to open the ACC on Wednesday night when they travel to Wake Forest to face a much improved Demon Deacon squad.

9-4 Overall, 0-1 Conference 


G- 00 Codi Miller-McIntyre (4.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg)
G- 10 Mitchell Wilbekin (8.5 ppg, 2.2 rpg)
G- 13 Bryant Crawford (13.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg)
F- 02 Devin Thomas (16.4 ppg, 10.2 rpg)
F- 44 Dinos Mitoglou (12.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg)



Senior forward Devin Thomas is the ACC’s active leader in double-doubles and enters the game averaging 16.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per game.  A season ago Thomas was a handful for Duke in the first match-up (an eight point Duke win), scoring a game high 24 points to put the Deacons in position to spring the upset of the highly ranked Blue Devils.  

In that game Thomas was active on both ends of the floor and attacked the rim - often going right at Jahlil Okafor.  He ended up making 12 of 20 attempts and recording five rebounds and four assists as the hosts knocked the Blue Devils back early on.

“He’s an unconventional center and I thought they did a great on Jahlil,” said Coach Krzyzewski of Thomas, “and Jahlil had to guard an unconventional guy tonight.”

A year later and Duke still lacks a truly good match up for Thomas.  Marshall Plumlee will certainly have his hands full, and if Thomas gets the Duke center into foul trouble - something that’ entirely possible - then you’re left with either freshman Brandon Ingram trying to guard someone 50 pounds heavier or freshman Chase Jeter battling inside.  Either way, it’s a potential game changer.

So far this year Thomas has seven double-doubles this season, including a pair of games with at least 20 points and 15 rebounds



Wake Forest has improved under second year coach Danny Manning.  The Deacons are 9-4 overall and have played a number of close games throughout the year.  And when the game is close, the Deacons are at their best.  Entering Wednesday night’s game the team is 7-0 in games decided by six points or less, defeating UMBC, Indiana, UCLA, Rutgers, Arkansas, Coastal Carolina and LSU after going 5-6 in those contests last season.  

In total, Wake Forest’s nine wins have been by a total of just 46 points with only one win coming by 10 points - an 81-71 win over UNC Greensboro.   And, the team has rallied from double figure deficits in two of the nine wins this year.  


While freshman big man Chase Jeter has shown occasional flashes, the former five star recruit is likely on the outside looking in for games that are tightly contested for Duke.  At least for now, which means that the Blue Devils will proceed into the first portion of the ACC schedule with a six man rotation.  

Meanwhile, the Demon Deacons are getting a lot more from their reserves.  Through 13 games Wake is getting 20.5 points per game off the bench per game and the second stringers have recorded 14 double figure scoring performances this year which is double last year’s performance to this point. A lot of that can be traced to the newcomers where the freshman trio of Bryant Crawford, John Collins and Doral Moore have combined for 24.1 points, 9.6 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game.


- Duke is 230-123 (.652) in road games during Coach K’s tenure, including a 164-101 (.619) mark in ACC road contests.

- Duke has scored nearly a quarter of its points this season at the free throw line (22.9 percent). The Blue Devils have made 64 more free throws (283) than its opponents have attempted (219).

- Duke leads the ACC and ranks 22nd nationally with an average of 5.8 blocks per game as Marshall Plumlee is averaging a career-best 2.1 per contest.  

- With five ballhandlers in its seven-man rotation, Duke ranks among the national leaders in both turnover average (10.1) and turnover percentage (14.1 percent of offensive possessions).

- Duke is averaging an ACC-best 8.6 three-point field goals per game. Matt Jones ranks fourth in the ACC in three-point field goals per game (2.8).

- Grayson Allen’s average of 20.6 points per game ranks fifth by a player in the six major conferences. Duke is 17-0 in his career when he scores in double figures.

They Said It:

“They’ve got four guys that can bring the ball up court when they secure a rebound, so making sure we match up in transition is something that we have to do a very good job at.” - Danny Manning on Duke

“He usually is either knocked to the floor or he falls to the floor because of those Herculean plays that he makes. I think you have a greater chance of getting hurt by tempering your natural instincts." - Coach K on Grayson Allen

The Prediction

A weaker Wake Forest team played a much stronger Duke team to the wire a season ago in Winston Salem before Duke made a few more plays down the stretch.  Later in the season Duke obliterated Wake in Cameron as Grayson Allen was unstoppable.  Fast forward to this year and Wake’s better and Duke’s not.  Lawrence Joel is still a very hostile and tough place to play.  This could very well be Duke’s first loss in ACC play, make no mistake.  Even with Thomas as the key player, Wake makes its living as a perimeter oriented team first and has a plethora of guards and wings who want to get to the hoop.  It’s a game that will test Duke’s ability to play in hostile environments and a game that could test Duke’s depth depending on foul issues.  We like the Blue Devils to win a close one, but seeing the conference record evened at 1-1 shouldn’t surprise anyone.  The pick…

Duke - 77
Wake Forest - 72

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