Wake Forest falls to dominant Duke team

The Demon Deacons fail to repeat last year’s victory against rival Blue Devils


Christian Odjakjian, Staff Writer

Well, that wasn’t as fun as last year. 

Wake Forest has been proving themselves as a tough out in the ACC all season, and taking Florida State to overtime in Tallahassee on Saturday only strengthened that case. So one day after Duke freshman Jalen Johnson, arguably the Blue Devils most talented player, decided to opt-out of the season to prepare for the NBA draft, Wake Forest fans should’ve felt very optimistic about their chances heading into the Wednesday night duel in Winston-Salem. 

But, it was never really close.

With just over three minutes remaining in the first half, Wake Forest Head Coach Steve Forbes received two technical fouls in quick succession and was ejected from the game. Forbes was not happy about a no-call on a Davien Williamson drive to the basket. 

“I have always had a great relationship with officials,” Forbes said after the game. “I have respect for them and the job that they have to do, but I am going to fight for my players.”

Duke was leading 37-22 at the time. After trading baskets in the first several minutes of the game, the Blue Devils went on an 18-2 run to take a 29-13 lead, and were comfortably ahead for the rest of the contest. Duke (9-8, 7-6) went on to defeat Wake (6-10, 3-10), 84-60.

“I thought Duke came in tonight and played an outstanding game in all aspects,” Forbes said. “I could tell from the tip that they were ready to go. They had great pace on offense, they were defending, and they were very physical.”

Sophomore forward Matthew Hurt played a gem of a game in the Duke win. Hurt connected on 8-9 attempts from the field, three of which were from behind the arc. Hurt ended with a game-high 22 points. Hurt has been a nightmare for the Demon Deacons this season. When the teams faced off in early January, he shot 10-15 for 26 points.

“I have never played with a scorer like this,” Duke guard DJ Steward said. “He really doesn’t miss at all. It’s a lot of crazy shots, fadeaways — he can give it to you in a lot of different ways. It’s pretty spectacular watching him while I’m in the game.” 

Steward had a nice game himself, scoring 16 and adding 7 rebounds. Also leading the way for Duke were junior Joey Baker and sophomore Wendell Moore, who scored 14 and 11 points, respectively.

In a game where little went right for the Demon Deacons, sophomore big man Ody Oguama was a bright spot. Oguama tied his season-high with 14 points in just 17 minutes and also scored the first six Wake Forest points of the second half, cutting the lead to 15, the smallest deficit the Demon Deacons would see the rest of the way. Williamson added 12 points for himself and did a good job getting to the basket throughout the game.

Duke connected on 54% of their attempts from the field, compared to 39% for Wake Forest. The Blue Devils also committed a season-low six turnovers. The team in blue shared the ball very well offensively, and was getting a good look almost every time they traveled down the floor. 

“I was really worried about this game because Steve [Forbes] has done such a good job with his team,” Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “They can shoot the ball and they have a movement offense, but our guys did a good job of defending them.”

Wake Forest ran their five-out motion offense for most of the game, which Duke stifled with strong perimeter defending from Jordan Goldwire, Wendell Moore and others. Freshman center Mark Williams did a great job protecting the rim as well.

The Demon Deacons weren’t moving the ball well at all, and there was much less flow in the offense compared to recent games. There was very little dribble penetration by anyone not named Davien Wiliamson, and far too many offensive possessions resulted in a contested look from deep, or a forced isolation situation as the shot clock ran down.

This Duke team may not even make the NCAA tournament, but they are still loaded with top recruits and a hall of fame coach. This young Wake Forest team will look to get back on track at home on Saturday with a very winnable game against NC State.