The Demon Deacons, coming off a difficult road loss against their first ACC opponent, Georgia Tech, hosted the Duke Blue Devils at LJVM Arena on Jan. 8. Boasting the No. 1 ranking, a nearly undefeated record and a pair of lottery pick prospects, the Blue Devils are off to a very successful start to the season as ACC conference play began last week.
The Deacs are 2-1 all-time against No. 1 teams in the LJVM Coliseum, wins vs. Duke in 1992 & 2009. Given that this was Duke’s first official road game of the season and their first ACC road game, the Deacs fed off the home crowd’s energy as the Deacon faithful jampacked LJVM with hopes to see a major upset.
Zion Williamson, Duke’s 6-8, 285 lb Freshman forward came out firing on all cylinders, but in the first half, the Deacs held their own, as Duke only led 42-34 at the half. Junior Point Guard Brandon Childress continues to play at a high level and dazzled the crowd with an impressive four-point play midway through the first half to give the Deacs a 18-16 lead.
Demon Deacon Freshman Forward Jaylon Hoard continues to impress and draw national attention with his ability to create shots and finish strong at the rim. Hoard has recorded multiple double-doubles this season and leads the Demon Deacons with 7.8 rebounds per game. Hoard posted another impressive game against the No. 1 Blue Devils recording 13 points alongside 9 rebounds and 2 steals.
It was a tale of two halves as the Deacs came out of halftime down only 8, but in the first 5 minutes of the second half the Blue Devils doubled their lead. Wake was able to get to the bonus early, but it wasn’t enough to shrink the Blue Devil’s lead.
Zion Williamson ended with a career high 30 points and 10 rebounds as the Blue Devils left Winston-Salem Tuesday night with a 87-65 victory.
“We didn’t shoot the ball very well from the free throw line as a whole – we just need to continue to attack the paint – we are one of the best teams in the country at getting to the free throw line – we need to score points from there,” Manning answered in his post-game press conference when asked about the offensive struggles in the second half.
Duke shot an impressive 58.1% from the field to the Deacs 33.8%. Low shot percentage continues to be a thorn in the Demon Deacon’s side. Duke’s height allowed them to penetrate and get to the basket strong and finish at the rim. While the Deacs defense seemed out of sync in the second half.
While a majority of the Demon Deacons are still young, many rising stars are making a point to why they deserve more playing time. Freshman guard Sharone Wright Jr. put up 12 points and 5 rebounds off the bench against the impressive guards of Duke. Wright Jr. saw a rise in playing time as guard Torry Johnson found himself in foul trouble early on in the second half and later fouled out.
Look for more impressive performances from Wright. Jr, Hoard, and Childress as ACC play continues with more difficult matchups coming in the near future. The Demon Deacons are about to start a tough three game stretch beginning with the ranked NC State Wolfpack Jan. 15 at home, followed by road trips to top 10 ranked teams Virginia Tech and Virginia the following week.