No. 4 Duke picked up another ACC road win late Tuesday night – this one at Wake Forest.
The Blue Devils (18-2, 6-2 ACC) lost two of their first three conference road games (at Boston College and N.C. State), but have since won three straight (at Pitt, Miami and Wake). The team is playing better on defense as the Blue Devils get into the tougher part of their conference schedule.
Here were five takeaways from Duke’s 84-70 win over Wake Forest (8-12, 1-7 ACC):
1. Wendell Carter Jr. is coming into his own
In his last four games, Carter is averaging 18.5 points per game, 11.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. He’s changed games on the defensive end for Duke – most notably the win against Miami on Jan. 13.
Against Wake Forest, Carter led all scorers with 23 points. He also had 12 rebounds and 2 blocks and was 1-for-2 in 3-pointers in 34 minutes.
His strength is scoring in the post, but he has shown that you can’t leave him open for a 3-pointer. Early in the season, with the success of fellow freshman forward Marvin Bagley III, teams would try to double-double team Bagley and leave Carter open.
Opposing defenses are now learning they can’t do that. Carter is 12-for-25 from behind the 3-point line this season.
2. Wake Forest turns the ball over 21 times
The Blue Devils have been doing a good job of playing pressure and getting their hands in the passing lanes in recent games.
“It makes guys think twice about throwing those passes once you tip one,” senior guard Grayson Allen said.
While Wake shot fairly well from the floor, 44 percent, it didn’t have many opportunities to shoot because of its turnovers. Those 21 turnovers led to instant offense for the Blue Devils. Duke scored 34 points off turnovers, the majority coming in the first half.
“I thought our ball screen defense for most of the game until the second half was outstanding,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “And our big guys did a good job of kind of walling off openings that their perimeter would have and kept them more to the side. And as a result, our defense was pushed over so it gave us more of a chance to get our hands on balls.”
3. Trevon Duval had another rough night
Duval, a 6-3, 186-pound freshman guard, finished with 0 points and was 0-for-8 from the floor against Wake Forest. He has struggled the past two games. On Saturday against Pitt, he had 5 points and 4 assists but also 4 turnovers.
Against the Demon Deacons, he took better care of the basketball, but still couldn’t make a shot or layup. Duval started the season 7-for-41 from behind 3-point line. Then he made 7-for-10 over the past four games.
His first 3-pointer attempt on Tuesday was an air ball.
Krzyzewski chalked up Duval’s performance to him being a freshman and having an off night.
“There’s a greater chance for inconsistent performance with young players or young teams,” Krzyzewski said. “He didn’t play well tonight, but he has played well, so I have confidence in him. But Grayson, he’s our backup there. That’s where I think Alex O’Connell’s minutes were so important today. Because it didn’t look like we missed a beat with him in there.”
O’Connell had 7 points in 13 minutes played.
4. With 10 minutes left to play, Wake had more offensive rebounds than Duke had defensive rebounds
Wake did a good job of attacking the offensive glass early in the game. Duke’s strength this season has been rebounding the basketball. It ranks among the top teams in the country in rebounding.
But Wake had some big men too. Doral Moore, a 7-1, 280-pound junior center, made his presence felt down low. He had 18 points (9-for-9) and 12 rebounds. Many of Wake’s misses also went long and allowed some of its guards to rebound the basketball.
By the game’s end, Duke had more defensive rebounds than Wake had offensive rebounds.
The game against Wake was only the third time all season Duke had been out-rebounded in a game (37-31). Duke lost the previous two games when it was out-rebounded: Boston College 89-84 on Dec. 9 and N.C. State 96-85 on Jan. 6.
5. Slowly but surely, Allen is getting into a rhythm
Allen has gone through a cold stretch recently. But he seems to be coming out of his slump. Allen scored 17 points against Wake Forest, was 4-for-10 from the floor overall and 2-for-6 from behind the 3-point line.
Allen knocked down his first two 3-pointers in the first half. One came off an offensive rebound.
Allen also had six assists.