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Wake Forest Takes Down #14 Duke 81-70 for 1st ACC Win of the Season

The Deacs upset the Blue Devils

Duke v Wake Forest Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

In the words of Idris Elba’s infamous character Stringer Bell, “I want you to put the word out there that we back up.” After a rough two week stretch that saw the Deacs get run off the court by Clemson and Rutgers, blow a 20 point lead in a loss to LSU, and beat App State at home on a buzzer beater after a lackluster showing, Wake Forest just put together probably their best performance of the season to beat the 14th ranked Duke Blue Devils 81-70. Wake once again looked like the team that went into Madison and beat a good Wisconsin team earlier this season, and they’re reward was their second Quad 1 win (for now) of the season.

Simply put, this was a dominating performance for Wake Forest. The Deacs took the lead 4 minutes into the game, and they never looked back, leading for the remaining 36 minutes. Duke was missing some key pieces in Dariq Whitehead and Dereck Lively II, but Wake did a fantastic job on defense holding Duke’s remaining stars Kyle Filipowski and Jeremy Roach to just 9 points apiece on a combined 7-21 shooting. The Deacs were really good defending the pick and roll tonight, keeping the Duke guards out of the paint and forcing a not so great shooting team into taking midrange jumpshots.

The biggest difference between this game and the past two weeks was turnovers and rebounding. The Deacs limited their turnovers to 15 in this one, which is admittedly still high, but not as bad as we have seen lately. Even when Duke went to a full court press towards the end of the game, Wake was much more composed. In the rebounding department, Wake dominated the glass against one of the best rebounding teams in the nation, out rebounding the Blue Devils 37-29.

I thought several Deacs had really good games tonight. While Tyree Appleby didn’t have a great game shooting the ball, he was able to lead Wake in scoring with 18 points by hitting 13 of his 14 free throw attempts. He also added 8 assists. Matthew Marsh was a force in the paint, finishing with 10 points on 5-5 shooting and 5 rebounds. It felt like every time Wake needed a basket, someone was lobbing the ball up to Marsh for a massive alley-oop dunk. Marsh’s continued improvement since the beginning of the season has been really great to see.

Cam Hildreth continued his solid season scoring 16 points and grabbing 9 rebounds. Early on, it appeared part of the game plan for Wake was for Hildreth to attack the mismatch with Tyrese Proctor down low. That turned out to be a pretty effective strategy, as Hildreth was able to get in the paint with ease and did a great job converting that into points or creating for his teammates. Damari Monsanto added 13 points, and I thought he looked to be playing more within the offense tonight instead of forcing things—the result was much better shot selection. Andrew Carr was the final Deac in double figures, scoring 10 points and grabbing 7 rebounds.

This was a huge win for Wake Forest, not only because it was a ranked team and Big Four rival, but also because it stopped what appeared to be pretty big skid and should give the team a lot of confidence heading into the new year. The Deacs now get 11 days off for Christmas before returning to the Joel to take on #21 Virginia Tech. How about back to back wins over ranked opponents?

What a night!

Go Deacs!