Alex O'Connell scored nine straight points to help Duke seize a commanding lead in the final minutes ...

HALFTIME: Duke 46, Wake Forest 33

Against a much more aggressive team than Pittsburgh and missing the leadership of head coach Mike Krzyzewski, the Blue Devils faced a much bigger test in Wake Forest for their sometimes questionable defense.

But with the Demon Deacons struggling with sloppy play, Duke enters the second half with an 46-33 lead, with freshman big man Marvin Bagley III and reserve guard Alex O'Connell combining for 25 points.

After a scoreless opening couple of minutes, senior Grayson Allen dished a pass to freshman Bagley for a massive alley-oop. The Demon Deacons responded immediately with a layup as both teams battled for the lead in the first 10 minutes.

With Wake Forest up 15-11, a 3-pointer from freshman Gary Trent Jr. with 13:12 on the clock jumpstarted the Blue Devils' offense, sparking a 14-2 run to put Duke up 25-17.

But the Demon Deacons weren't shaken by the Blue Devils' surge on offense, with Bryant Crawford responding with a three and a putback jumper at to put Wake within three with 6:38 left in the half.

But the freshman trio of Bagley, O'Connell and Trent kept the Blue Devils in control. Nine straight points from O'Connell in less than a minute were part of an 13-5 run to close the half that gave Duke a double-digit lead.

Here are a few observations from the first half:

  • Justin Robinson is stepping into a bigger role on the team. With DeLaurier and Bolden sidelined again due to injury, the former walk-on was switched onto the court early before the first media timeout—before O'Connell and Antonio Vrankovic.
  • The Demon Deacons are struggling to stay clean through the first half. Wake Forest committed five fouls in the first five minutes and ended the half with 14. 
  • Grayson Allen is taking the reins for Duke as a playmaker. Allen leads the Blue Devils in assists and rebounds and at the half while Trevon Duval has remained largely absent due to an apparent toe injury.
  • Gary Trent Jr. appears to be sick—he spent a while on the bench with a trash can in front of him.

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