Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

Deacs set for ACC stretch run

Deacs still have everything to play for down the stretch.

DURHAM, N.C. — “Right now!” Bryant Crawford exclaimed to his teammates as John Collins strode to the free-throw line for the back-end of an and-1 that brought the Deacs to within two points with just a little over three minutes left against No. 12 Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Crawford’s admonition was on target at that moment, but it’s also true moving forward.

Wake played well — well enough to beat nearly any other team in the nation Saturday, but still fell short against Duke.

John Collins was exceptional, scoring a career-high 31 points and grabbing at game-high 15 boards.

Bryant Crawford was superb, scoring 21 points while dishing six assists against zero turnovers. The Deacs had just four turnovers as a team -while facing one of the top teams in the country in front of more than 9,000 hostile fans dressed in blue.

Down one and with the ball in the final minute, Wake got exactly what they wanted — a Crawford drive to the bucket for a chance to finish at the rim or draw a foul. It just didn’t go down, and the refs swallowed the whistle both on the shot attempt and when Collins was shoved out of bounds as he tried to grab the board.

Down three just seconds later, Crawford got to the rim, but had the same result.

Right now!  

In the moment, the Deacs had a chance to knock off Duke in Cameron for the first time since 1997.

Bear in mind, this isn’t exactly the same Duke squad that limped into Joel Coliseum less than a month ago.

That second-half comeback against Wake sparked the Blue Devils to now seven-straight wins. They were reeling, now they are the favorites to WIN the NCAA Tournament according to the oddsmakers (9/2 odd, for those interested in such things).

The NCAA Tournament favorites. Playing at home. In an environment in which the Deacs haven’t come out on top for 17 years. Yet Wake had a chance to take a lead with under a minute left.

Right now!

The ‘right now’ Crawford was referring to is now over, and it didn’t go the Deacs way, but if they play with the same passion, intensity and focus during the next couple weeks the ‘right now’ in front of them could still be pretty darn satisfying to the coaches, team and fans.

“Nobody in the ACC is going to feel sorry for us,” Wake guard Brandon Childress said after the game. “We’ve got three big games (left).”

Wake last won three-consecutive ACC games in 2010. That’s also coincidentally the last year they made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

With home games against Pittsburgh (15-12, 4-10) and Louisville (22-5, 10-4), followed with a road finale at Virginia Tech (18-8, 7-7), that might be exactly what this team needs to do to assure themselves a bid on Selection Sunday.

'Right now’ begins Wednesday against Pitt.

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