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Dawkins buries Wake, Duke rolls

Junior Andre Dawkins hit seven 3-pointers in the first half as Duke downed ACC rival Wake Forest, 91-73.
Junior Andre Dawkins hit seven 3-pointers in the first half as Duke downed ACC rival Wake Forest, 91-73.

For Duke, there are games where the team lives or dies by the 3-point shot. Thursday night against Wake Forest, the Blue Devils thrived with 11 3-pointers, while the Demon Deacons floundered with only three. Aided by an early lead, Duke defeated Wake Forest 91-73 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The No. 4 Blue Devils (16-2, 4-0 in the ACC) gained the lead with fifteen minutes to play in the first half and never looked back.

“Tonight the fact that we [took a big lead and held it] was a huge step for our team,” junior Ryan Kelly said. “We’re concentrating for longer periods of time, especially on the defensive end. That shows the sign of a maturing team.”

Defensively, the Blue Devils were able to slow the Demon Deacon offense in the first half behind high-pressure defense, all but eliminating Wake Forest’s passing lanes. The real story, though, was the impressive and balanced offensive showing from the team.

Junior Mason Plumlee, who has struggled at the charity stripe this season, went 4-of-6 from the free throw line against the Demon Deacons (10-8, 1-3). His presence opened the door for Duke’s outside shooters.

Enter junior Andre Dawkins. After a stellar 24-point performance against Clemson last Sunday, Dawkins earned the starting spot and he did not disappoint. Dawkins put up 21 points in the first half, entirely from 3-point shooting.

“I feel like I’m more focused that I ever have been here at Duke,” Dawkins said. “After the Clemson game, all [I heard was], ‘He’s done this before. He’ll come back and fall off again.’ I pay attention to that stuff and I’m trying to prove to people that I live up to the stats.”

When Dawkins’ offense cooled off in the second half, junior Seth Curry and freshman Austin Rivers were more than ready to pick up the slack. Curry started the second half with four consecutive layups within the first five minutes of play and finished with 14 points.

Rivers, meanwhile, did not start for the first time this season. Although he only scored six points in the first half, he racked up 20 by the end of the game. Kelly also added 20 points and was a major force on the defensive end.

Freshman Tyler Thornton had a solid showing off the bench against the Demon Deacons. He only scored one point, but his career-high eight assists helped to secure the victory.

“We’ve got a lot of guys who can put the ball in the basket,” Dawkins said. “It showed tonight. We had pretty good balance.”

Duke is now looking at a 48-hour turnaround before facing Florida State this Saturday, a team that upset the Blue Devils in Tallahassee last season. Last week, Florida State defeated then-No. 3 North Carolina 90-57.

“They’re playing lights-out basketball,” Krzyzewski said. “They’re long and they’re old. And in college basketball when you’re old it means you’re experienced. We’re playing men on Saturday afternoon. Hopefully we’re men.”

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