The ACC schedule did nothing to help out Wake Forest this week. Following a tough loss against 5th ranked Louisville, the Deacs played host to the 2nd ranked Duke Blue Devils. This game looked much like the Louisville game. The Deacs played great for just about the entire game, Devin Thomas continued his great play, and the opponent pulled away right at the end of the game. In the end, the Deacs came up short and fell to Duke by a score of 73-65.
The best part of this game for the Deacs was the defense. Duke's Jahlil Okafor is considered by many to be the best player in the country, and will most likely be the number one overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft. So it is no surprise that he was the focus of Wake Forest's defense in this game. The Deacs did a fantastic job defensively against Okafor, holding him to just 12 points, which is well under his average of 18.9 points per game.
Wake Forest was able to accomplish this in 2 ways. First, the Deacs ran double teams in Okafor's direction any time he got the ball and forced him to get rid it.
The second way the Deacs were able to contain Okafor was by denying him the ball.
Here we can see Devin Thomas gets in the passing lane on the entry pass to Okafor. This led to a nice steal and a huge throw down by Codi Miller-McIntyre. Of course, when a team is giving one player so much focus, that is going to leave other players open.
The main benefactor of the defensive focus on Okafor was Justise Winslow, who ended the game with 20 points on 7-17 shooting. Winslow hit on 3-8 3-pointers and a also finished around the rim.
On the offensive side, Devin Thomas continued his stellar play. Devin finished the game with 24 points on 12-20 shooting. He scored a variety of drives, post ups, and even a one leg fall-away jump shot that would make Dirk Nowitzki proud.
If Devin can continue this level of play throughout the rest of the conference schedule, the Deacs will be tough to beat. This was a 1 to 2 point game for much of the second half, until about the 2 minute mark.
With about 2 minutes left in the game, a 3-pointer from Matt Jones and a 3 point play from Tyus Jones would push Duke by Wake Forest. In less than a week, the Deacs played two top 5 ranked teams, and gave both of them a tough fight for a majority of the game. Unfortunately, a loss is a loss and the Deacs ahave yet to win a conference game. If Wake Forest continues this level of play Saturday against Georgia Tech, they should have no trouble picking up their first conference win.