Duke called in a few fresh faces at Cameron Indoor Stadium Sunday night, but even the new-look Blue Devils know what number to dial in an emergency: four. Duke would need all of J.J. Redick’s career-high 38 points to finish off its most productive game of the season and beat Wake Forest, 102-92.
Duke called in a few fresh faces at Cameron Indoor Stadium Sunday night, but even the new-look Blue Devils know what number to dial in an emergency: four.
With 9:11 remaining against fifth-ranked Wake Forest and No. 7 Duke facing the possibility of its first three-game losing streak in nine years, J.J. Redick looked in to Shelden Williams clutching onto the ball, swarmed by Demon Deacons in the post. Then, in one speed-dial punch, Redick caught a pass at the top of the key, drained a three-pointer and felt Wake’s Jamaal Levy clip his hand to foul out.
The four-point play sent Redick’s arms in the air and capped a 39-point Blue Devil scoring outburst in the first 11 minutes of the second half. But even with 33 points from No. 4 and the lead stretched to 16, Duke would need all of Redick’s career-high 38 points to finish off its most productive game of the season, 102-92.
“I didn’t think the game was over. There were nine minutes left, and I remembered what happened when we played them in Winston-Salem and we came back,” said Redick, whose 11 points in the last two minutes against the Demon Deacons Feb. 2 nearly completed a Blue Devil comeback. “I was just hoping that we could get enough stops and make enough plays to pull it out.”
Chris Paul and Trent Strickland brought Wake (22-4, 10-3 in the ACC) to within 11 as the clock passed five minutes, but Lee Melchionni, who finished with 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting, nailed a deep three that head coach Mike Krzyzewski called the biggest shot of the game for Duke (19-4, 9-4).
Melchionni extended the Blue Devils’ lead earlier in the half with seven points in 1:20, after which he took a charge for Justin Gray’s fourth personal and bumped Paul to instigate a technical foul.
But even in a game when reserves Patrick Davidson and Patrick Johnson started because of strong practices following Thursday’s loss to Virginia Tech, this night belonged to Redick. The junior scored Duke’s first nine points and closed it out with the last five at the free-throw line, playing all 40 minutes while draining 6-of-10 from beyond the arc. The Blue Devils shot nearly 60 percent from the field overall.
“We just didn’t do a good job of playing defense before he caught it,” Demon Deacons head coach Skip Prosser said. “Once he caught it he was making every shot.”
Redick dropped 19 points in each half, taking his time to find screens in a physical, back-and-forth opening period packed with 24 fouls and 10 lead changes. Midway through the first, Redick ran off a pick for a three and, after Sean Dockery picked Taron Downey’s pocket to force a jump ball, dribbled slowly from one defender to the next before hoisting up an easy three.
That shifted Paul into hyperspeed, as Wake’s star point guard began blitzing through Duke’s guards in transition to create an almost one-man offense. Even after running into traffic and throwing away a few errant passes, Paul continued to chuck up wild shots and spot up for three on his way to 27 points and seven assists.
“We saw a lot of points tonight with guys really playing hard defensively. To me that takes the game to another level,” Krzyzewski said. “Tonight the offense, then, had to play at just another level.”
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Reeling from a 67-65 loss, Krzyzewski turned to Davidson, Johnson and new captain Reggie Love in the starting lineup “to send a message that he wanted guys out there that were going to fight,” Redick said. Davidson hounded Paul from the very start, but the Blue Devils eventually turned to their “big three” once more.
Shelden Williams fought off double teams for most of the game but battled through 39 minutes in the post against the stronger Eric Williams. He even stepped out of the lane to create passing lanes for Redick and hand out a career-best four assists.
Ewing, out of the starting lineup for the first time this year, caught fire in the second half. Following a floater through traffic, Ewing stole the ball from Levy and passed to Redick for three as Duke ballooned its lead to 12 before turning back to its emergency man.
“Tonight was all about Duke—us fighting and going out here and playing a 40-minute game.” Ewing said. “We needed all those players to contribute the way they did, and they did a great job tonight.”
Shavlik Randolph played just three minutes, losing several potential rebounds on an extended Wake Forest possession early in the first half before missing the first of a one-and-one at the line.... Redick logged 40 minutes for the seventh time this year and had a career-high 14 free throws on 15 attempts, putting him at 93.3 percent for the season.... After a quick stop back home, Duke takes to the road again, travelling to Atlanta for a matchup with Georgia Tech Wednesday before heading for New York to face St. John’s Saturday afternoon.