First-half run pushes Duke basketball past Wake Forest

Tyler Thornton's defense helped to spark a decisive Duke run that allowed the Blue Devils to run away with a 20-point win.
Tyler Thornton's defense helped to spark a decisive Duke run that allowed the Blue Devils to run away with a 20-point win.

Coming off a long road trip and a quick turnaround from an emotional loss to Syracuse, Duke took some time to find its rhythm against Wake Forest. When the shots started falling, the game did not stay competitive for much longer.

The Blue Devils used an 18-1 run at the end of the first half to break open the contest and blow by the Demon Deacons 83-63 Tuesday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Jabari Parker led all scorers with 21 points and Rasheed Sulaimon followed up his heroic effort against the Orange with 19 points.

"We beat the emotional hangover of being in two amazing games last week, and especially the game over the weekend when we lost a difficult game on a controversial play at the end," Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "The last eight minutes of the first half we really started playing well defensively, and then our execution on offense was outstanding."

With Duke trailing 28-26 with 6:02 to play in the first half, Parker hit a turnaround jumper in the lane to begin Duke's run. After Rodney Hood took a charge, the redshirt sophomore—who was scoreless to that point—found his shooting stroke by scoring eight points in the span of 1:24. After hitting from the right elbow, Hood stepped out and hit back-to-back shots from beyond the arc to energize the home crowd.

After going just 6-of-16 from the floor against the Orange, Parker re-found his efficient stroke, shot 8-of-10 from the field and wowed the crowd with a pair of thunderous fast-break slam dunks. The freshman from Chicago also added eight rebounds.

Tyler Thornton sealed the run for the Blue Devils (18-5, 7-3 in the ACC), making one of his three steals on the night and pushing it ahead to Parker for the slam. The Blue Devils' defensive tenacity was on display the entire night, turning 19 Wake Forest (14-9, 4-6) turnovers into 26 points for the Blue Devils.

"It was really exciting, all praise to him. A lot of people should give him a lot of praise and a lot of credit for the lead we ended up getting," Parker said. "His energy he had rubbed off on us."

The senior hit a triple of his own on Duke's next trip down the floor to extend the Blue Devil advantage to 12. Later in the contest, Thornton earned a big high-five from Krzyzewski after making another defensive play to knock a pass out of bounds. The Duke head coach said that Thornton, "played like a senior captain."

"Man, it's invigorating," said Sulaimon when asked what it was like to watch Thornton play defense. "Just to see him make plays like that, it hypes everyone up.... When we see Tyler making great plays like that, everybody gets on him and everybody steps up their level of intensity as well."

Duke went into halftime holding a 46-33 lead after making eight of its final 10 field goals to end the period. The team's run to end the half was accomplished with a special guest in the stands as well. Stand-up comedian Jeff Foxworthy joined the Cameron Crazies with 6:52 remaining in the first half, just before the Blue Devils took their game-altering run.


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