Duke finds range against Wake
When the ACC schedule was announced, Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik wasn’t totally dismayed that his freshman-laden team would be opening against powerhouse Duke at Cameron Indoor stadium.
“To me it was a great benchmark for our guys to understand what a No. 1 team does and what it is like to play on the road, especially here at Cameron,” Bzdelik said. “All of those are experiences you can grow from.”
What the Deacons found out Saturday is they have a way to go to be on the same level with the top-ranked Blue Devils.
Duke (14-0) rode the 3-point shooting of Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry in going up double-digits in the first half, sliced the Deacons apart in the second half and cruised to a 80-62 victory in the league opener for both teams.
“It’s good to make a statement that we’re hungry and ready to win this league,” Curry said. “You’ve got to take care of homecourt and we did that today.”
They took care of it as Kelly and Curry each scored 22 points, point guard Quinn Cook dished a career-high 14 assists and forced the Deacons to commit 18 turnovers while committing six. Mason Plumlee added 13 points and 12 rebounds, and Rasheed Sulaimon had 12 points.
They also held the Deacon freshmen to just 18 points, forcing senior C.J. Harris and junior Travis McKie to provide most of the offense.
McKie finished with 22 points while Harris added 19. But, they didn’t score with any consistency until Duke had opened the second half with a 24-10 run to go up 65-40 with 11:33 to play. Wake (7-6) came unglued during the stretch, twice the turning he ball over while trying to inbound it after made baskets.
“Guys were in passing lanes,” Kelly said. “Quinn (Cook), even though he didn’t shoot the ball well (0 for 11), he did so many things on the defensive end with his pressure. We just made it hard on them.”
The Blue Devils went 9 of 16 from 3-point range in the first-half barrage as Kelly made 4 of 6 and Curry went 3 of 5. The torrid outside shooting helped Duke pull away after Wake led 14-13 with 13:27 to go in the first half.
Kelly then made back-to-back 3s and Tyler Thornton added one in a quick 9-0 burst that put the lead at eight. That was a beginning of a 21-5 burst that put Duke up 34-19 with 6:22 left.
“We have players on our team who can create and a lot of focus has to be on them,” Kelly said of being left open at the first half. There has to be some help side and some seams, so I found the openings and my teammates got the ball.”
Kelly scored more than 20 points against Wake for the fourth straight game.
“The ball just seems to go in when I play them,” Kelly said.