Codi Miller-McIntyre Got His Groove Back. CMM was a monster. 20 points on better than 50% shooting (9-19, 0-1, 2-3 from the line), 7 rebounds, and 3 assists. The key to Codi's success was that he attacked the rim with all the fervor he used to demonstrate. I want to believe that this is a sign of things to come, because if it is I honestly think we'll give teams fits. CMM gets my game ball because he pretty much owned the Duke defense for much of the night, which can't be said for much of the rest of the team. There was one major exception though, which I'm going to get to. As a matter of fact, I think I'll get to that now.
Devin Thomas (Mostly). Devin was a man among boys, racking up 21 points (9-11 shooting, 3-6 from the line), 12 rebounds, and 3 assists. He was dunking all over Duke all night, on alley-oops, cuts, blow-bys, and putbacks alike. It truly was a remarkable performance the likes of which I can't remember seeing from a Wake big in quite some time. He was looking like he was going to be a big part of willing Wake Forest to victory, but it was not to be, largely because of a single sequence that will be discussed more in due time.
Getting Duke In Foul Trouble. This Duke squad only goes 7 or 8 deep, and the Demon Deacons did a pretty good job of getting them into foul trouble, with Matt Jones and Grayson Allen both having 4 fouls, and Marshall Plumlee and Luke Kennard both having 3. The downside of this is that several of these foul issues took place early in the second half, and I honestly feel like some members of the Wake squad could have done more to attack the Blue Devils.
The Technical. I'm not going to say it's Devin's fault we lost the game. I'm not going to call Devin a headcase or act like he's Chas McFarland-ing it up (love ya, Chas). This was Devin's first T of the year. That being said, that was unequivocally the turning point in the game. As soon as the tech happened, I said to myself, "Welp, that's it." That turned out to be the case, unfortunately. It's a crying shame really, because Devin had been beasting and feasting up until that point. Coach Manning sat Devin for most of the rest of the game, and I'm actually glad for that, because I think Coach Manning was sending a message, and I want to believe it will work going forward.
Bryant Crawford's Rough Game. The usually shining freshman standout had a brutal outing, with 0-6 shooting, 0-1 from three, 1-2 from the line, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal, and 3 turnovers. If Bryant had been more his normal self, who knows where the game might have ended up? I fully expect Bryant to be back to form soon though, just like I expect from Devin.
The Defense. Wake Forest gave up 52% shooting, 35% from three, and Duke shot a truly remarkable 25-27 from the line. I'll say this, the three point defense improved remarkably in the second half, going from 5-10 to 1-7. Otherwise though, the defense was pretty horrendous, especially since Duke got 17 free throws in the second half. We were just unable to defend without fouling in the second half in a way I haven't seen in quite some time. Admittedly it's Duke and that's what they do, but goodness me was it ever infuriating to watch.
The Bottom Line
It was painful, and there was understandable frustration after the game, but anyone talking about how Danny Manning might not be the guy needs to reel it back, and fast. I mean I'm not ready to crown Coach Manning the next Wake Forest coaching legend yet or anything, but I maintain what I've been saying, which is that we're still way ahead of schedule. Without the technical, who knows how the game would have ended up? Some may question the fact that Coach Manning sat Devin for as long as he did, but I think it was important for him to get through to Devin in a clear, demonstrative fashion.
By the way, UCLA just beat #7 Arizona. Between that and LSU, those are two wins almost on par with any team in the ACC not named Duke, UNC, or Virginia.
Anyway, we need to beat State, absolutely need to, but I believe we both can and will. On to the next. Go Deacs.