The fight is serious when Mike Krzyzewski takes off his suit jacket. And that happened for the second time this year in Duke’s 79-71 win against Wake Forest.
“Uh oh, it’s game time,” Matt Jones said on what that move means. “Even though you don’t want to see him get to that point, when you see him take the jacket off, you know you have to step it up even more and take it to another level.”
Krzyzewski first joked that it was hot in Cameron Indoor Stadium when asked about his jacket. Then he explained his motives.
“I just want to show our team anything, maybe a little sign,” he said. “And then they gutted it out.”
The shedding of clothing came after Brandon Ingram pulled the Blue Devils off of the ropes.
With Wake Forest up 56-53, Ingram chased down Rondale Watson and blocked his shot from behind. On the ensuing possession, Ingram buried a 3 to tie the score with 12 minutes remaining. That’s when Krzyzewski ditched his coat, a move he pulled during Duke’s 95-91 loss to Notre Dame.
“We expect Brandon to make plays like that with his wingspan,” Jones said of Ingram’s block. “When guys go to the hole, and he’s on that guy, I expect him to block it 10 times out of 10.”
The Ingram block, 3-pointer and Krzyzewski’s jacket removal started a 12-2 run that put the Blue Devils up 65-58 with eight minutes left. Duke’s defense tightened up, and Wake Forest was never able to cut the lead to fewer than five points the rest of the way.
With a 70-65 lead with one minute and 40 seconds remaining and Marshall Plumlee out of the game with five fouls, Chase Jeter hit one free throw after Wake Forest sent him to the line. Ingram stole the ball from Devon Thomas on the ensuing possession, and Grayson Allen hit both free throws after the Deacons quickly fouled to put Duke back up by eight, 73-65.
The Deacons’ largest lead in the second half was never more than three points, with its latest advantage coming with 12 minutes, 54 seconds left, right before Ingram’s 3 and Krzyzewski’s jacket removal.
Grayson Allen scored 20 second-half points and led Duke with 30 overall. Krzyzewski said he could tell all of the attention and controversy over Allen tripping Florida State’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes last Thursday affected his performance in the Sunday blowout loss at Pittsburgh.
“Grayson got back to playing. At Pitt, you could tell—all that affects you. It just affects you when everyone is making a big to-do over things, over him,” Krzyzewski said. “He got out of it, and he got 30 points tonight.”
The Blue Devils came out with much better energy than they had in Sunday’s loss at Pittsburgh—but shots just weren’t falling and the finishes weren’t dropping. Duke shot just 28.6 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes (10-of-35). It wasn’t an issue with shot selection, just one with execution.
The Blue Devils were much more effective than the Demon Deacons at getting to the free-throw line, which allowed Duke to go into halftime with a 35-34 lead. The Blue Devils attempted 17 free throws (making 12) while Wake Forest went 3-for-5 and didn’t attempt its first until there was 3:36 left before halftime.
For the game, Duke held a 38-17 advantage in free throws attempted.
Plumlee, who struggled at Pitt, had 10 first-half rebounds and was 5-for-8 from the line. Plumlee fouled out with one minute and 40 seconds left with 10 points and 17 rebounds, tying his career high.
Another reason Wake Forest was losing at the half: 13 first-half turnovers, compared to just three for Duke. The Demon Deacons did play much cleaner in the second, recording just five in the final 20 minutes. Duke had 12 steals on the night, indicative of their defensive effort.
“Proud of my guys,” Krzyzewski said. “It’s their third game in six days with the one in between as our worst game of the year. To come back 48 hours later and show who they’ve been—since we were 4-4 (in the ACC), they’ve grown so much as a group.”