Duke Now

Here’s how the Blue Devils have turned a corner

Duke guard Luke Kennard shoots his game-winning shot against Wake Forest on Jan. 28.
Duke guard Luke Kennard shoots his game-winning shot against Wake Forest on Jan. 28. cliddy@newsobserver.com

Duke needed more than Luke Kennard’s season-defining 3-pointer.

The sophomore guard sunk the eventual game-winner on Jan. 28 at Wake Forest, giving No. 12 Duke (21-5, 9-4 ACC) its first league road win and a solid step in the right direction. Freshman forward Harry Giles followed up with a block on the other end as Duke held on for an 85-83 victory.

It was the first win of the Blue Devils’ six-game winning streak, as they host the Deamon Deacons for the second round of this season’s series on Saturday.

The four games leading up to the first Wake Forest matchup were turbulent for Duke. The stretch included back-to-back road losses to Florida State and Louisville and an emotional loss at home to a struggling N.C. State, the Wolfpack’s first win at Cameron Indoor Stadium since 1995. Sandwiched between those was a victory over Miami that was saved by a second-half boom.

Kennard, Duke’s leading scorer with 19.8 points a game, has been consistently reliable all season, along with junior guard Grayson Allen after he overcame the scrutiny that followed his suspension in December.

Here’s how the Blue Devils have turned around their season.

Jan. 10-23; FSU through NCSU: Duke shot 45.3 percent from the floor to its opponents’ 47.9. Thanks to 16 assists against N.C. State, the Blue Devils averaged 10.5 assists to 11.3 turnovers during this wave.

Allen was the leading scorer once during this stretch, when he scored 23 on 6-of-11 shooting in front of a rowdy crowd at Louisville on Jan. 14.

Jan. 28-Feb. 9; Wake through UNC: Duke shot 49.5 percent to its opponents’ 48.4, a slight rise since Pitt (51) and UNC (52.5) shot well. The Blue Devils passed out 15.8 assists during this stretch. Allen led Duke in scoring three times -- against Pitt (21), UNC (25) and Notre Dame (21) -- averaging 22.3 points in those games.

Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan

Wake Forest at Duke

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Where: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham

TV/radio: WRAL, 99.3-WDNC