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Blue Devils give Hill little help in loss to Deacons


Includes chart of game stats


Blue Devils give Hill little help in loss to Deacons**

WINSTON-SALEM -- In classic head coaching style, Wake Forest's Dave Odom tried to downplay his team's 78-69 upset win over No. 2 Duke Sunday.

"It's just a day, it's only a moment in time," said the reserved Odom, barely able to keep a wide smile from breaking across his face. "You're only as good as your last game and your next one. That's it."

Wake Forest seized this day and left a locker room of Blue Devils -- save one -- wondering where, oh where, their jumpshots had gone.

"We certainly didn't put the ball in the basket," said head coach Mike Krzyzewski, his voice strained by fatigue and frustration. "I thought we had good shots. You've got to shoot shots confidently, even after you've missed shots. We didn't shoot with confidence and I'm not sure why. They were probably a little hungrier, certainly more poised."

Duke's supporting cast deserted senior co-captain Grant Hill, whose 11-of-24, 24-point performance was wasted.

Hill played the game's entire 40 minutes, grabbed 13 of the team's 31 rebounds, and suffered through one of his team's worst perimeter shooting performances of the year.

"I thought our youth showed on the perimeter," Krzyzewski said. "Grant was trying to do everything, and we certainly didn't help him out. You win in college basketball with really good guard play -- I mean, I should know that. I've won a lot of games because of having good guards.

"They were much more mature and poised out there than we were."

When Wake Forest switched to a zone defense early in the second half, all of Duke's eyes turned to Hill. Guards Jeff Capel, Chris Collins and Marty Clark combined for just seven baskets in 27 tries. And once again, the ball-handling responsibilities fell on Hill's shoulders.

"I've been concerned about it all year," Krzyzewski said. "I mean, when you start a freshman and a sophomore in the backcourt, and your best player has to handle it all the time or most of the time, that's a real concern to me."

Throughout the game, Collins and Capel habitually passed on open jumpshots, while Clark drove helplessly into the teeth of the tight Demon Deacon defense.

"It seemed like some of us were short on our shots," Collins. "I'm not going to point fingers but I know myself, I didn't make shots. I had open shots myself that I should have made. Once you start missing shots, it's hard to have the confidence to keep shooting. We were a little tentative out there."

For the first time all year, the Blue Devils came out of the locker room and played as though they were scared to lose. Hill attempted to lead an aggressive attack on that attitude, but he had no followers Sunday afternoon.

"I'm not drained right now," Hill said after the game. "I'm pissed that we lost, but I'm not physically drained. Our shots didn't fall and we didn't stay positive. We just stopped attacking."

The loss, Duke's third of the season, was perhaps the team's first serious defeat. The Blue Devils had five days to rest and prepare for a Wake Forest squad that had stolen a 69-68 win from Duke in Cameron Jan. 13. The team was playing for a one-game lead over North Carolina atop the Atlantic Coast Conference standings, as well as an inside track to a No. 1 seeding in the NCAA tournament.

Duke had a lot to prove against the Demon Deacons, who have now swept the Blue Devils this regular season and won five of the last eight games played between the schools.

Hill understood what was at stake and responded -- his compatriots didn't.

"Grant is almost too unselfish -- he's trying to get everyone going," Krzyzewski said. "You look at the final stats and he has 24 shots, but a lot of those shots were at the end of the game when he's trying to pull us out. That's what I mean about being more aggressive.

"We don't look to him enough."

But that was precisely the problem on Sunday -- the Blue Devils looked at Hill too much. And when Hill's own shot fell short midway through the second half, Krzyzewski didn't find the minutes to rest him.

"His shoulders must be heavy -- that was the fatigue, I think," Krzyzewski said. "He shouldn't have passed the ball as much as he did in the second half -- he should have taken 40 shots. We might have won if he'd taken 40 shots -- at least, we would have had a better chance of winning."

In ACC play, it almost always takes more than one player's great performance to secure a win. And though Hill might seem to slip into a superhero costume from game to game, he is not an endless source of basketball energy.

The Blue Devils will not achieve either of their season's remaining goals -- the ACC and NCAA titles -- without a hefty dose of help from his 12 teammates.

"You can only do so much," Hill said. "I tried out there and I feel like I gave it my all."

Duke's next game against Virginia on Wednesday in Cameron is the team's chance to help Hill control the damage of Sunday's loss. He can't do it alone.


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