No. 4 Duke holds on for 71-70 victory over Wake Forest
The Blue Devils did have RJ Barrett, and that — plus a fortunate bounce on the final shot — was just enough to beat Wake Forest.
“When they got the last shot, we were just wishing for it to fall out,” Jones said. “They’d been getting a lot of rolls, so I feel like we had to get one as well.”
Jones added 13 points for a sluggish Duke team missing Williamson for a fourth straight game with a sprained right knee. Coach Mike Krzyzewski said he hopes Williamson will be healthy enough to play in next week’s ACC Tournament.
The Blue Devils (26-4, 14-3) overcame 41-percent shooting and a 16-for-26 showing from the free-throw line to win their 10th straight in the in-state series.
Williamson’s absence, coupled with a rough game from No. 3 option Reddish — who missed his first six shots and was called for charging three times — left Barrett as essentially a one-man show for Duke. He was 11 of 23 from the field but was just 6 of 14 from the foul line.
The Blue Devils — 26-point favorites — trailed by 10 with 16 minutes remaining and never led by more than three until the final three minutes.
“I know RJ’s beating himself up” for his free-throw shooting, Krzyzewski said, “but he played a great game, and without him, forget it. Forget it. … We had a hard time scoring, and he missed free throws, but he made the biggest bucket of the game … and if we’re in a similar situation, we’ll do the same thing.”
Brown had 21 points and 10 rebounds, and he pulled Wake Forest (11-18, 4-13) within 69-68 by hitting two free throws with 43.9 seconds left. Duke bled the shot clock before the left-handed Barrett hit a right-handed jumper in the lane to put the Blue Devils up by three with 17.3 seconds remaining.
Brandon Childress hit a layup with 7.4 seconds left, and Wake Forest had one last chance after Duke turned it over while trying to inbound the ball. Childress missed a 3-pointer with about two seconds left and the rebound went to Brown, whose short jumper spun around the back of the iron before falling out at the horn.
“We gave ourselves a chance,” coach Danny Manning said. “We just came up short in terms of not making shots. … We just didn’t do enough to win.”
Wake Forest: This one will sting for the Demon Deacons, who have struggled throughout Manning’s fifth season while losing nine games by 20 or more points. On paper, it looked like it would be No. 10. But Wake Forest responded with arguably its best game of the season — yet still wound up a spin or two of the ball from earning its first victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium since Tim Duncan’s senior year in 1997.
Duke: There weren’t many encouraging things in this one from the Blue Devils, who once again stumbled early against a lower-division ACC team. But unlike the Georgia Tech and Boston College games — in which they fell behind at halftime before pulling away for convincing victories — they could never shake the pesky Demon Deacons.
Krzyzewski said Williamson did “some basketball stuff” Tuesday afternoon and is gaining confidence, but he doesn’t think his star freshman will be back for the regular-season finale at No. 3 North Carolina on Saturday night. Coach K said he’d “be surprised if he wasn’t ready by the ACC Tournament.” Williamson has been out since he was hurt in the opening minute of the loss to the Tar Heels on Feb. 21.
Jones spent a few minutes in the locker room after he bumped knees with a Wake Forest player while he was fouled with about seven minutes remaining. He spent a timeout receiving treatment from the team’s medical staff, limped onto the court to hit two free throws and then hobbled back to the bench and eventually the locker room. Seconds after he returned to the bench, Alex O’Connell hit a 3-pointer to give Duke the lead for good.
Retiring Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade sat behind the scorer’s table, and a video played on the scoreboard during a timeout featured Krzyzewski thanking the 13-time All-Star for helping the U.S. national team win gold medals in 2004 and ’08. Topping off the tribute, the Cameron Crazies unsuccessfully chanted for Wade to join them in the student section.
Wake Forest: Plays host to No. 14 Florida State on Saturday.
Duke: Visits No. 3 North Carolina on Saturday night.