No hangover for No. 11 Duke during rout of Wake Forest
Coming off an emotional loss to Syracuse, the Blue Devils could have been burned out. Instead, Jabari Parker scored 21 points as Duke coasted to an 83-63 victory over Wake Forest.
Duke's Jabari Parker reached the 20-point mark for the 13th time this season.
Mark Dolejs / USA TODAY Sports
By Lauren Brownlow
DURHAM, N.C. -- In the first 12 minutes or so, Wake Forest (14-9, 4-6 ACC) didn't look anything like a young team at Cameron Indoor Stadium, and No. 11 Duke (18-5, 7-3 ACC) didn't look much like the team that gave then-No. 2 Syracuse all it could handle in an instant classic on Saturday night.
The easy prediction was Duke would crush the hapless Deacs, eager to avenge their frustrating loss and take it out on someone.
It didn't unfold that way, though. Not at first.
Wake led 28-26 at the 6:52 mark of the first half, and the Deacons were not afraid. That much was clear. Playing without starting point guard Codi Miller-McIntyre, the Deacs were undaunted. After seldom-used reserve guard Miles Overton gave Wake its biggest lead of the game with a three-pointer, it was almost surreal to see him running back downcourt holding three fingers out, strutting proudly.
That's not something that happens in Cameron.
At least, not with impunity.
As it turned out, plenty of punishment was coming Wake Forest's way. A 20-5 Duke run to ended the first half, fueled by Wake turnovers and Duke's more imposing defense.
Oh, and Jabari Parker.
The freshman had just two points in the first 12 minutes of the first half on just one shot attempt.
In the final eight minutes, he had eight points on 3-of-4 shooting. In the second half, he added another 13 on 4-of-5 shooting.
It was in a variety of ways, too. He stole the ball and dunked it. He drove and got to the line, refusing to settle for jumpers. He even posted up and made sure to get what he wanted down low.
Parker's been praised -- rightfully so -- for some big moments in the last few games; he shared ACC Co-Rookie of the Week with Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis. He did have 36 points in two games the week prior, but it took him 35 shots to get there.
"I guess I just settle," Parker said. "I settle a lot. And then that (becomes) the scouting report. I just need to start focusing a little bit, be more of a student of the game and see different ways I can make it easier on myself. But that takes a lot of focus and I'm trying to get back into it."
For him, it took the same thing it took the rest of the team -- a defensive spark.
"It just feels good getting active, just go use my length on the defensive end," Parker said of his two blocks and two steals. "That's going to help us win if I play defense."
Parker and sophomore Rodney Hood are captains, but so are seniors Josh Hairston and Tyler Thornton. As Thornton himself would admit, he's not the most talented player on the floor. So he makes up for it through his hustle and grit on the defensive end.
It's why Krzyzewski plays him -- and will continue to play him -- and it's what saved his team from a general malaise that might have cost them an ACC game at home on Wednesday.
And it inspired perhaps the best freshman in the country, Parker, to make a few plays of his own.
"I think it's defense. Just seeing the energy of Tyler being able to open up a lot of plays for me, a lot of opportunities for me and our team really gets me going and pumped," Parker said.
The 91-89 overtime loss at Syracuse was a little over 72 hours behind them on Tuesday in Cameron, but it couldn't have felt that way. When the game ended on a -- as Krzyzewski put it -- "controversial play" (the no-call on Hood's dunk try) and the emotional gut-punch was tough to take.
So Krzyzewski was happy that his team beat both Wake Forest and the residual emotion.
"I'm proud of our team. We won the game tonight. We beat the emotional hangover of being in two amazing games last week, and especially the game over the weekend where we lost a very difficult game on a controversial play at the end," Krzyzewski said. "Unless you've been in -- I'm not sure any of you have been in those situations as a participant, but you don't realize the emotional impact it has on you. So we're a tired basketball team."
The Blue Devils still have four games and a little over two weeks before their much-anticipated (yes, already) rematch with Syracuse. And they're eager to get that chance, but they know they have work to do in the meantime.
"It really proves that Syracuse is the No. 1 team and we were able to compete with them," Parker said. "I think as time goes on, we can improve and we'll be able to play them again."