No. 4 Duke started Tuesday’s game without Zion Williamson and played long stretches without Cam Reddish, Marques Bolden and Tre Jones.
The Blue Devils had RJ Barrett though, and that was barely enough to subdue Wake Forest.
Barrett scored 28 points as the Blue Devils overcame a 10-point second-half deficit to win 71-70 in ACC basketball at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Barrett’s drive down the lane to score with 17.3 seconds left proved to the the winning points for Duke.
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Wake Forest’s Brandon Childress drove for a layup with seven seconds left leaving Duke up 71-70. The Blue Devils mishandled the in-bounds play to turn the ball over.
Wake Forest got off two shots in the final seconds. Childress’ 3-pointer rimmed off with two seconds left and Chaundree Brown’s shot at the buzzer rolled around the rim and out.
Duke (26-4, 14-3 ACC) played its fourth consecutive game without Williamson, the national player of the year candidate who is sidelined with a sprained right knee. Reddish sat out 12 first-half minutes after picking up three fouls.
Bolden left the game early in the second half with a leg injury. Jones went the locker room briefly in the second half with a right leg injury only to return.
Through it all, the Blue Devils barely survived against struggling Wake Forest (11-18, 4-13 ACC).
Brown led Wake with 21 points while Childress scored 19.
In addition to Barrett’s scoring, Jones added 13 for Duke, which shot 41.4 percent and made 7 of 22 3-pointers (31 percent).
The Blue Devils led 35-34 after a lackluster first half and the teams were tied at 39 when Wake Forest flexed its muscles.
The Demon Deacons scored the game’s next 10 points in style, with Childress hitting a jumper while falling down before driving through the lane to score in transition. Childress’ 3-pointer, followed by a Duke turnover and a 3-pointer by a wide open Sharone Wright, Jr., put Wake Forest up 49-39 with 16:14 to play.
Duke answered with its own 10-0 run to catch the Deacons, who missed four shots in a row to aid the Blue Devils comeback.
Tre Jones started the push back with a 3-pointer from the right corner and Barrett drove into the lane and sank a one-handed jumper. Barrett added two free throws and Alex O’Connell rebounded his own missed shot to score and draw a foul.
After a timeout, O’Connell’s free throw tied the game at 49-all with 13:45 to play.
With Wake Forest in a stretch where it made just 1 of 12 field goals, Cam Reddish gave Duke a 53-51 lead with a 3-pointer in transition with 11:41 remaining.
But the Blue Devils could never pull away from the underdog Deacons.
Duke stumbled through the first 20 minutes, turning the ball over nine times to trail most of the first half. Three Duke free throws, two from Jack White and one from Bolden, allowed the Blue Devils to take a 35-34 lead at halftime.
Reddish went scoreless while being whistled for three fouls -- all charging calls. He played only eight minutes in the first half.
That left Barrett as Duke’s lone scoring threat. He scored 15 points on 6 of 11 shooting while committing three turnovers in the first half.
No other Duke player had more than the eight points White tallied.
The Blue Devils didn’t take their first lead until nine minutes into the game when Javin DeLaurier’s free throw put Duke ahead 16-15.
Wake Forest shot just 40 percent in the first half, making only 3 of 14 3-pointers.