Home for the holidays, Wake Forest triumphs over Duke

The 81-70 victory was the Demon Deacons’ first win against their Big Four rival in almost three years


Evan Harris

Tyree Appleby drives through the Duke defense.

Evan Harris, Photography Editor

Christmas came early to Lawrence Joel Memorial Coliseum, filled nearly to capacity on Tuesday night. Following a blowout loss on the road against Rutgers, the Demon Deacons bounced back in their first home ACC contest of the year with a confidence-inspiring 81-70 victory over Duke.

Wake Forest dominated with all five starters recording double figures. The matchup marked the 258th meeting between the two teams — a rivalry dating back to 1905. Wake Forest fans can rejoice knowing that Duke head coach Jon Scheyer’s first visit to Deactown resulted in an unexpected beatdown. It is also the first time Wake Forest has beaten Duke since Feb. 25, 2020.

The Blue Devils only led the contest early in the first half for 19 seconds, unable to regain footing for the rest of the game. Standout performances from graduate Tyree Appleby, sophomore Cameron Hildreth and junior Damari Monsanto paved the way for what would be a decisive win for the Demon Deacons.

Appleby led the Demon Deacons in scoring, netting 18 points — this contest marks the sixth time this season that he has led the team in scoring. Appleby was effective at the line on Tuesday night, missing just one of his 14 free-throw attempts. He is currently ranked third in the ACC for average points per game with 18.

Hildreth was a force to be reckoned with, playing aggressively in the paint on each offensive drive. He led the Demon Deacons with nine recorded rebounds in addition to scoring 16 points.

Monsanto had an impressive performance, racking up 13 points for the Demon Deacons along with five rebounds.

From the field, Wake Forest shot 49.1% compared to the 39.1% average to which Duke had held their 12 previous opponents. The Blue Devils themselves recorded 44.1%.

Free throws proved incredibly important to the final scoreline. Wake Forest netted 22 of their 26 attempts compared to Duke only making 10 of their 24.

When asked about the defeat, Scheyer credited the Demon Deacons.

“They outplayed us,” Scheyer said. “They were the hungrier team [with] a sense of urgency coming off of their game on Saturday, you could really tell. And for us, we didn’t really have that.”

Scheyer was also asked about the absence of two outstanding freshmen, Dereck Lively II and Dariq Whitehead, who had fallen ill with a non-COVID-related illness.

“We’ve been healthy, it’s [just] we got sick,” Scheyer said. “It’s how it goes…other teams go through it, it’s not ideal of course…you look at that time when you had exams but also leading up to this game, practice time, we didn’t have our group together.”

Despite this, it must be said that the absence of two players did not define their loss. The remaining Duke starters played without intensity and quickly fell behind an aggressive Wake Forest team.

Freshman Kyle Flippowski played a poor game, shooting four for 14 and missing all six of his three-point attempts — Flippowski had been averaging 14 points per game. The same went with Jeremy Roach, a junior guard who has been averaging 13 points per game. Roach recorded only nine points against Wake Forest, going three for seven on the floor.

Wake Forest brought a different intensity as compared to their more recent games.

“Early on in the season, we had been playing to survive,” Wake Forest head coach Steve Forbes said in a post-game interview. “You can’t hope the clock runs out man, you gotta play.”

Forbes of course was referring to the close contests that Wake Forest has already run into this season. Five of the past 13 games have been decided by five points or less. The resounding 11-point victory against Duke was a blueprint of the way Forbes would like to see the rest of the season.

“I’m really proud of our team,” Forbes said. “In the second half, we took a punch to the canvas there in about nine minutes, but we came right back. We didn’t fold, and we’ve had some moments where we’ve teetered and we didn’t finish, and tonight was a great example of finishing.”

The Demon Deacons resume ACC play at home on New Year’s Eve at noon against current No. 21 Virginia Tech on the ACC network. Virginia Tech lost to Boston College on Dec. 21.