DURHAM, N.C. — Duke seems capable of spreading out its production and that could be one of the keys Saturday afternoon when the seventh-ranked Blue Devils welcome Wake Forest to Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“We have to,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said about receiving significant contributions from reserves. “We have a couple of kids out and our bench really came through for us.”
Duke is coming off an 87-52 whipping of Pittsburgh, marking the largest margin of victory in an ACC road game for the Blue Devils in 18 years.
Six Duke players scored in double figures against the Panthers. That hadn’t happened since a home game with Wake Forest last February.
Duke’s reserves accounted for four points in last Saturday’s loss at North Carolina State, with Javin DeLaurier scoring all of those. He missed the Pittsburgh game with a hamstring injury.
Still, the Blue Devils (14-2, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) managed 22 points from their bench players against the Panthers.
But it’s the defense that has been of utmost concern for Duke since it surrendered more than 80 points in each of its first three ACC games.
“That was our big focus,” said freshman forward Marvin Bagley III, who leads the ACC in scoring (22.1 points per game) and rebounding (11.8). “We have to keep it going against Wake Forest. We have to continue to lock people up on defense.”
Krzyzewski said that not everything has been solved.
“We’ve been practicing like crazy trying to get better,” he said. “We have to just keep working at it.”
Wake Forest (8-8, 1-3) has lost consecutive games to Boston College and Virginia Tech, and despite some improved rebounding during ACC play, the Demon Deacons haven’t developed consistency.
“We didn’t provide the amount of resistance that we needed to provide,” Wake Forest coach Danny Manning said of the defense after 83-75 loss to Virginia Tech.
Manning said the Demon Deacons have been bogged down by details, failing to convert in end-of-half and end-of-game situations too often.
“We have to do a better job of that, working on those situations,” he said.
Wake Forest hasn’t won at Duke since the 1996-97 season. Overall, the Blue Devils have won the last six meetings in the series.
Duke senior guard Grayson Allen has thrived against Wake Forest, particularly in home games.
As a freshman in 2015, his first game of big production came with a 27-point outing in late February against the Demon Deacons. He has followed that with 27 points and 11 points when Wake Forest has visited — with the latter of those matchups resulting in Allen’s career-high six steals.
Plus, Allen has scored 24 and 19 points in the past two road games against the in-state foe.
“I got hot and Coach left me in there,” Allen said of his breakout performance as a freshman.
Allen praised the Demon Deacons backcourt, and noted some similarities with his style.
“They like to push the ball (and) I want to push the ball so maybe that flows right into it,” he said.
For Wake Forest, this begins an eight-game stretch with six opponents currently ranked. The other two games are on the road.