A young team playing a hostile environment and battling serious foul trouble early in the second half. That’s not something that usually results in a positive outcome. And yet, Duke overcame it all with some stellar guard play and a career effort from their senior big man.
Marshall Plumlee hit all seven of his field goals on the way to a career high 18 points and seven rebounds as Duke held off Wake Forest 91-75 on Wednesday night in Winston Salem.
It’s the second straight road victory for the Blue Devils to open the ACC season and the team’s fourth straight win since losing to Utah.
Grayson Allen led all scorers with 24 points while Luke Kennard added 23 off the bench - the entirety of the production from Duke’s extremely limited rotation - and Brandon Ingram added 17 for the Blue Devils who begin the league with two straight road victories for just the second time under Coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Duke built a 12 point lead midway through the first half before Wake Forest found its offense in the form of senior Devin Thomas. The 6-foot-9 forward had bested Duke’s Jahlil Okafor a season ago when the teams played in Winston Salem, and the Blue Devils had no answer for him this time around either.
Until his temper got the best of him in the second half, picking up his fourth foul after being hit with a technical foul with just over eight minutes remaining. At that point he had torched Duke for 21 points and 12 rebounds, but was a non-factor over the remainder of the game.
Duke would take advantage, extending the lead to an insurmountable margin behind dribble drives from Allen and Kennard that resulted in either trips to the free throw line or dump offs to Plumlee, who recorded a number of thunderous dunks down the stretch.
That decisive stretch was a marked change from the beginning of the second half when Duke’s lead was down to four and the Blue Devils seemed to be on the ropes after Allen and Jones were sent to the bench with four fouls within 30 seconds of one another.
Now, after two straight road wins to open conference play, the Blue Devils will welcome Virginia Tech to Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday. The Hokies enter the game fresh off their upset win over No. 4 Virginia.