Preview: Duke (14-2) v. Wake Forest (12-3)

Previewing the Blue Devils and Deacons who tip-off tonight in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sport Net beginning at 8:00 PM EST.


Duke (14-2) vs Wake Forest (12-3)
Durham, N.C. - Cameron Indoor Stadium
TV: Fox Sports / Tip: 8:00 PM EST

Program Vitals
Conference:  ACC
Nickname:  Demond Deacons
Colors: Black & Gold 
Head Coach: Dino Gaudio (3rd season)
Career Record at Wake Forest: 53-23 

Projected Starters:
 1 Al-Farouq Aminu (6-9, 220, So.) – 17.3 ppg, 11.7 rpg
10 Ishmael Smith (6-0, 175, Sr.) – 13.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 6.0 apg
13 Chas McFarland (7-0, 250, Sr.) – 6.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg
42 L.D. Williams (6-4, 210, Sr.) – 9.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg
15 C.J. Harris (6-2, 175, Fr.) - 12.1 ppg, 2.2 rpg

Key Reserves:
44 David Weaver (6-11, 250, Sr.) – 3.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg
 2 Gary Clark (6-4, 195, Jr.) – 4.8 ppg
20 Ari Stewart (6-7, 205, Fr.) – 7.8 ppg, 3.1 rpg
55 Tony Woods (6-11, 245, So.) - 3.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg

Story Lines For Wake Forest:

How They Got Here:
Wake Forest enters Sunday night's game with an impressive 12-3 overall record and a 2-1 conference mark. However the pre-conference schedule didn't include too many "name" games. The Deacons did battle a then top-5 Purdue team to an 11 point decision in December. And they beat Gonzaga by two. However Wake has also fattened up teams such as Oral Roberts, East Carolina, Winston Salem State, Elon, UNC-Wilmington, and Richmond. The Spiders actually forced the Deacons into overtime. Perhaps the most surprising result was a 10 point loss to William & Mary on November 28th.

After falling to Georgia Tech on the road, the Blue Devils returned home to face Boston College in a game that yielded positive and negative developments for Coach Krzyzewski's team. Duke continued to struggle from the perimeter, hitting just 1-of-12 from beyond the arc. However, with a renewed ability to get the ball inside and not settle for three ball after three ball, Duke was able to build a big lead and cruise to a 20 point victory.

Series History:
Duke owns a 156-77 in the ACC's oldest and most frequently played series. The Blue Devils have won six of the previous eight meetings between the two programs including 11 straight victories in games played at Cameron Indoor. Overall Duke has won 21 of the last 26 games.

Injury Report:
Both teams appear to be relatively healthy heading into Saturday's game.

Drama Nothing New For Wake
The Deacons are no strangers to thrilling finishes this season. In three of the last four contests Wake has seen the game go into overtime. It's the first time since 1983-84 the program has gone into extra time three times in four games.

When Wake does go into overtime and the game is on the line, be on the lookout for Ismael Smith. On Wednesday he hit the third game winning basket of his career against Maryland. As a sophomore Smith hit a pair of game winners against Virginia Tech and Miami by dribbling down the clock and then driving to the right elbow for a pull-up jumped. Against the Terps Smith changed up his approach by dribbling into the lane and hitting a running jumper over Eric Hayes as the shot clock expired.

Three Point Trends Clashing:
While the Blue Devils have struggled tremendously over the last few games from behind the arc, they still rank second in the conference and 15th nationally in three-point field goal percentage. The Blue Devils enter Sunday's game averaging eight three-pointers made per game with senior Jon Scheyer connecting on just under three per game. However, those numbers are somewhat down after going just 7-of-40 (.175) from the perimeter against Georgia Tech and Boston College.

If Duke is going to reverse the recent trends on Sunday, it won't be easy. Wake Forest is holding opponents to 5.4 three-pointers per game and, overall, a 25.9 percent shooting clip from beyond the arc for the season. Just one opponent to date - High Point University - has hit more than eight three-pointers against the Demon Deacon defense. Meanwhile the Blue Devils have hit nine or more treys on six occasions including three games of 12 or more, and have shot 25 percent from long range just three times this season.

The Middle Is The Strength:
While the defense is very strong in Winston (the Deacons rank second in the conference in field goal percentage defense), Wake is also very good at cleaning the boards and getting the ball inside to the big guys. In short the strength of the team is in the paint. Currently the Deacs lead the ACC in rebounding - pulling in an average of 43.9 per contest. The team ranks 21st nationally in rebounding margin per game at +6.9/game. On the offensive side of the court Wake has out-scored its opponents by an average of 40-25 per game in points in the paint. 51.7 percent of the team's scoring comes courtesy of the ball being fed into the painted area.

Watch Out For...
Sophomore big man Al-Farouq Aminu could have entered the NBA Draft a year ago and been a first round pick. However the 6'9 big forward elected to return for his sophomore campaign. That decision not only buoyed the Wake program for another year, but also earned Aminu several preseason All-Conference and All-American honors. Through 15 games he's proven himself more than worthy of the accolades by averaging a double-double of 17.3 points and an ACC-leading 11.7 rebounds per game. Currently Aminu is the only player in the ACC and one of just seven players in the "BCS" conferences who is averaging a double-double on the season.

Aminu leads the ACC in rebounding (11.7), offensive re- bounds (4.5) and defensive rebounds (7.1). He ranks sixth in scoring (17.3) and blocks (1.4) and 10th in both field goal per- centage (.481) and in steals (1.4) He leads the ACC in "20 & 10" games with six, doubling up the second-highest total.

In addition to leading the Deacons in points and rebounds per contest, the Norcross (Ga.) native is leading the team in free throws (72) and blocks (21), is second in assists (26) and third in steals (21) and three- pointers (9).

Fearless Prediction(s)
If Duke is going to move to 3-1 and "hold serve" at home against the ACC schedule, the perimeter shooting woes are going to need to be cured. In curing them the Blue Devils cannot focus exclusively on the perimeter jumper. Instead a balanced attack will need to be employed against the Deacons. Duke doesn't have a favorable match-up against Aminu - much like they didn't' against Lawal from Tech. What the do have is the ability to deny him the ball as they did against Derrick Favors and to hit the boards and limit the Deacons to one shot. If the Devils match Wake on the glass and figure a way to find their shooting range, they should be albe to win. If Duke becomes overly reliant and nearly perimeter exclusive, it could be a very close and uncomfortable evening in Cameron.

Prediction:

Duke 77
Wake Forest 68


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