Duke-Wake Forest Preview
After a much-needed seven days off, Duke is ready to get back to business.
While the No. 4 Blue Devils have a huge game looming in their regular-season finale, they will first try to get by Wake Forest when they visit Winston-Salem on Wednesday night.
Duke (23-6, 12-4 ACC) is surely eager to take the court for the first time since beating Virginia Tech 66-48 last Tuesday. Rodney Hood scored 21 points and Rasheed Sulaimon added 15 as the Blue Devils concluded a stretch of five games in 11 days.
"It’s kind of like, I don’t know if you do this, but getting the last bit of toothpaste out," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Even though you’ve got two full containers, you’re going to get that last little bit. Tonight was like, ‘Let’s get it out there.’"
Duke shot just 38.7 percent but pulled down 14 offensive rebounds to the Hokies’ four.
"We started to warm up and we came back in and they got us pretty good because we didn’t look like we were ready to go out there and fight," Hood said. "We’ve got to be prepared for that. The ACC tournament, you can play three or four games in three or four days so there’s no excuse for us. I think it’s taxing on us, but we’ve got to be ready and get rejuvenated for next week."
The Blue Devils figure to have fresh legs against the Demon Deacons, whom they have outscored by an average of 15.4 points during an eight-game winning streak in the series. Duke easily won 83-63 on Feb. 4 behind a combined 40 points from Jabari Parker and Sulaimon.
Though the Blue Devils enter Wednesday as double-digit favorites, they can’t afford to overlook the Demon Deacons (15-14, 5-11) ahead of Saturday’s heavyweight rematch against No. 14 North Carolina.
"Get back into the main stream of things, which is to play ACC basketball and finish off this regular season. It’s been a good one. This is our last road game coming up (Wednesday), and we’re playing a team that is playing on its senior night," said Krzyzewski, whose team has gone just 4-4 on the road.
"I like the attitude of our guys, I think we have gotten refreshed. When you haven’t played, though, you’re a little bit antsy as to how it will start off again."
Wake Forest has dropped eight of nine after falling 80-72 to Boston College on Saturday. Devin Thomas and Travis McKie scored 18 points apiece, but the Demon Deacons were outrebounded 36-21, including 13-2 on the offensive glass.
"That’s been a problem for us all year," coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "In a lot of ways, when things don’t go well offensively, we have a tendency to put our head down. Defense and rebounding is effort, and we still haven’t gotten over the hump of having the maturity to not allow things offensively to affect the other parts of our game that really matter. That is it in a nutshell."
The Demon Deacons have dropped four of five at home after opening 12-0. They are 1-3 against Top 25 teams this season, with a win coming over the then-No. 19 Tar Heels on Jan. 5.