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Playbook: Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs Duke Blue Devils

Deacs lose a close one in Durham

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Duke Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Deacs came mere inches away from beating the Duke Blue Devils in Cameron Indoor Stadium on Tuesday night, but instead picked up their 18th loss of the season as Chaundee Brown’s last second attempt hit every part of the rim before falling out of the basket. I had a hard time coming up with what to write about for this one because the game was actually pretty gross. There was a lot of 1 on 1 being played, especially on Duke’s end of the court where RJ Barrett shot 23 of Duke’s 58 attempts. Combined, the two teams shot 40% from the floor, 31% from 3, and an abysmal 60% from the free throw line.

I wish I could tell you that Duke looked like a National Championship contender and that Wake came out and played an amazing game, but neither of those things would be true. Looking at the stats, the Deacs actually played an average game for the season across the board. At times, we looked liked the Wake Forest that moves the ball and gets decent looks at the basket.

And at other times we looked like the Wake Forest team that likes to dribble the ball to death and take terrible shots.

The thing I finally decided to look at was the Wake closes out halves. Several times this year, we’ve gotten the ball at the end of a half with a chance to go two for one or to just hold it and leave the opponent with a few seconds remaining, and often we do neither. In last night’s game, for example, Childress pulled up from 3 with around 12 seconds left on the clock, rather than holding for the last shot.

Sunday Okeke fouls on the rebound and Duke ends up with 2 free points. Had we not fouled, Duke still would have had 9 seconds to go down the court and get a basket. Obviously in a close game you don’t want to be giving away points, but this play was the difference in having the lead and being behind at the end of the half. Here’s another example from the Notre Dame game.

This possession started with around 49 seconds left in the half. I’m a big fan of going 2 for 1 in these situations, as it gives you twice the chances to score. Here, we seemingly kill the clock until there are under 30 seconds left (meaning we can’t get the ball back if the other team holds for 1) and then shoot a long contested 2 pointer.

And while I’m here I’ll just throw in 1 more.

Obviously, this one is a little different because Wright feels like he’s got a fast break opportunity where he can score or get to the free throw line. However, notice the difference in a young team against a very experienced team. Phil Cofer, a redshirt senior, is wide open but elects to pull the ball back out and hold for the last shot.

All that being said, the Deacs still put forth a great effort in Durham and almost came away with a massive upset victory. That’s the 2nd time in 3 years we’ve had the ball down 1 with under a minute to go in Cameron—eventually, we are going to get one of these games. Hopefully we can put the heartbreaking loss behind us before we take on FSU on Saturday.