When Duke finally found itself in a close game, the second-ranked Blue Devils came up with the solution.
They’re expecting more challenges ahead in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Perhaps misguided by some lopsided early results, the Blue Devils know there are potential potholes ahead. They’ll try to avoid one of those when Wake Forest visits Saturday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C.
Duke holds an eight-game winning streak, but Wednesday night’s 73-64 decision at Georgia Tech marked the only game decided by a single-digit margin during that stretch. The score was tied with fewer than 4 1/2 minutes remaining.
“(Coach Mike Krzyzewski) was like ‘This is more like an ACC game,’ and so he was just telling us we’ve got to tough it out,” Duke freshman Cassius Stanley told reporters. “It’s going to be tough.”
It’s a difficult stretch for Wake Forest, as well. The Demon Deacons will face a top-10 team for the second time in four nights after falling 78-68 at home to No. 10 Florida State on Wednesday.
Krzyzewski said he likes how the Blue Devils responded in the Georgia Tech game because it had been weeks since there had been late-game pressure building on the Blue Devils.
“Our kids showed some amazing toughness,” he said. “They really hung in there.”
The Blue Devils (14-1, 4-0 ACC) like to show the ability to make clutch plays at both ends of the court. Guard Tre Jones sank the go-ahead shot as part of his eight points in the final 4 1/2 minutes.
“Probably the thing that’s really helped us in every game this year — playing defense, really,” Jones said. “We really sat down on the defensive end in those last few possessions. We got tough rebounds, tough plays.”
In the most recent meeting between Duke and Wake Forest, it took some late-game efforts for the Blue Devils to pull out a victory last March.
Duke won that game 71-70 at Cameron Indoor Stadium, when Wake Forest guard Chaundee Brown’s shot bounced off the rim at the buzzer after he grabbed a rebound of teammate Brandon Childress’ missed 3-pointer.
“I’ve still got that bad taste in my mouth,” Childress said.
That result still sticks with many members of the Demon Deacons.
“It’s something everybody thinks about,” Wake Forest center Olivier Sarr said.
Wake Forest (8-6, 1-3) faced Florida State without Brown, a junior and the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.3 points per game. He sustained a lower leg injury last weekend, though coach Danny Manning said he had been doing some shooting as of Wednesday.
“We need him,” Childress said. “What he brings to this team is unbelievable.”
With consecutive games against top-10 opponents, the Demon Deacons view this as an opportunity.
“This is what the ACC is about,” Manning said. “Night in and night out, you’re playing against great teams. We’ve got to go play.”
Wake Forest has won only one ACC road game in each of the previous two seasons. The Demon Deacons won at Pittsburgh last Saturday.
For Childress, a senior, it’s the final time going to Duke, where he has never won. He said he’ll make sure his younger teammates go in with the right approach.
“We have another top-10 opponent on Saturday,” Childress said. “They’ll never experience anything like Saturday.”
–Field Level Media