It marked the fifth time in Duke history that five players have fouled out, but the first time it was all five starters. Duke had five players foul out at Maryland on Feb. 12, 2005, and here at Wake Forest on Feb. 13, 2003, under Coach K and twice against North Carolina in the 1950s and '60s.
Nolan Smith led the way for Duke off the bench with 21 points and he was the Blue Devils go-to player down the stretch. He connected on 8-of-12 from the field and had a pair of three-pointers. DeMarcus Nelson scored 15 of his 18 points in the first half while Kyle Singler scored 17 points for the Blue Devils.
Smith scored the Blue Devils final seven points after the final media timeout as the Blue Devils pulled within six at 76-70 with 2:36 remaining and again at 78-72 with 1:48 left, both off of lay-ups from Smith. Duke then had a pair of misses and six straight free throws from the Demon Deacons put the game into double digits at 84-72.
Wake Forest started strong out of the gate, connecting on four quick three-pointers and storming out to a 19-12 lead just over six minutes in. The Blue Devils were giving up less than four threes per game in ACC play. Duke chipped away at the lead and a Nelson lay-up with 9:13 remaining in the first half gave Duke its first lead at 25-24. The teams played the remainder of the first half close with neither team getting more than a four point lead until Jamie Skeen's tip-in as the first half clock expired, giving the Deacs a 47-42 lead at the break.
After L.D. Williams had a monster dunk and three pointer on back-to-back possessions, Wake Forest opened up a 52-44 lead just three minute into the second half. Duke responeded with an 11-0 run over the next three minutes to go up 55-52. A Smith three and Singler layup gave Duke a 60-55 lead at the 11:22 mark but the Blue Devils wouldn't hit another field goal for more than seven minutes and were outscored 17-3 during that run. Greg Paulus hit a three-pointer to pull Duke within six at 72-66 before Smith's final seven points.
Duke will look to rebound when it travels to Coral Gables, Fla., to take on the Miami Hurricanes Wednesday night in a 9 p.m. tipoff on the ACC's TV package from RAYCOM. Duke then returns home for the final non-conference game of the year as St. John's travel to Cameron Indoor Stadium next Saturday at 4 p.m. on CBS.