Duke escapes Wake, 75-70
For the second straight season, Duke brought out one of Wake Forest’s best efforts of the Jeff Bzdelik era.
For the second straight season, the effort wasn’t quite good enough for the Demon Deacons.
Trailing by one after Tyler Cavanaugh gave Wake its last lead at 66-65 with four minutes to go, the fifth-ranked Blue Devils scored 9 of the next 11 points and went on to a 75-70 at Joel Coliseum on Wednesday night.
Seth Curry put the Devils ahead to stay at 69-66 with a 3-pointer. Madison Jones brought the Deacs within one with a layup but that was their last hurrah as the Blue Devils scored the next five points and Wake misfired on its next two possessions.
Mason Plumlee led Duke with a career-high 32 points but managed just three in the last 13 minutes.
The teams battled to a 40-40 tie at the half, but Duke then threatened to put a quick end to the Deacons’ upset hopes.
Playing with more intensity on defense and going to Plumlee repeatedly, the Devils scored eight of the first 12 points of the second half for a 52-44 lead with 14:40 to play. But the Deacons scratched back, largely on the inside scoring of Thomas and Arnaud Moto, forcing a tie at 58 on two free throws by Moto and then regaining the lead at 60-58 on a jumper by Harris.
The Deacons made their move while the Devils went away from trying to get the ball to Plumlee, who had a career-high of 29 at the 13:40 mark and didn’t score again until hitting one of two free throws to tie the score at 66 with 3:45 to play.
Wake, trying to outrun the Blue Devils, led most of the first 13 minutes, building as much as a six-point lead. Duke finally regained the lead at 29-28 with 7:16 to go in the period and neither team led by more than three the rest of the period.
C.J. Harris, after adjusting his eye-protection goggles before beginning his drive, hit a jumper in the lane to force the tie at the break as both teams shot 54 percent for the period. Harris led the Deacons with 10. Thomas had nine but played just 11 minutes because of foul trouble. Junior forward Travis McKie added eight.