With Duke men's basketball set to take on Wake Forest on the road Wednesday, the Blue Zone takes a look at a player from both sides who could propel his team to victory:
Duke: Mark Williams
Time and time again, Mark Williams has proved to be one of the most crucial players on Duke’s roster. He will need to play a crucial role yet again Wednesday when the team takes on Wake Forest. For the Blue Devils to register another conference win, the group must have all hands on deck on the defensive side, which notably starts with Williams’ shot-blocking ability. In Duke’s matchup Saturday against Miami, Williams was integral in preventing the Hurricanes from recording more layups on the day, tying a career-high with six blocks. The Hurricanes had 70 attempts from the field against Duke but only connected on 32 of those shots, largely thanks to Williams’ efforts on the defensive end.
Against the Demon Deacons, not only will Williams play a key role as the Blue Devils’ defensive leader, but if the group needs extra help getting into the paint, he will be there to provide. Williams is one of Duke's most consistent players at getting into the paint, significantly attributable to his 7-foot-1 and 242-pound size. Coming off of a loss and going back onto the road for this contest, Duke will want to ensure success from the field, and that all begins from the tip with Williams.
Wake Forest: Alondes Williams
Alondes Williams will undoubtedly be the most prominent foe from Wake Forest that Duke faces Wednesday night. The 6-foot-5 graduate student leads the Demon Deacons in points, rebounds and assists, averaging a respective 20.4, 6.7 and 5.1 per match. Williams has the looks and stats of a veteran player for head coach Steve Forbes, but this is his first year with the Demon Deacons, having transferred from Oklahoma to use his last year of eligibility with Wake Forest. Williams has made good use of his time in Winston-Salem, seeing an immense amount of growth on the court quickly. In the first half of the season alone, he has totaled nearly as many field goals as he did in his two seasons with the Sooners.
The most important thing to recognize with Williams is his versatility on both sides of the ball. He has dropped double-digit scoring performances in every match so far and he is sure to try to do so again Wednesday. With a 55% mark from the field and a daunting 66-of-93 mark at the charity stripe thus far, the Blue Devils must be able to force Williams out of the paint without fouling to remain competitive. On the defensive side, Williams leads his team in rebounds and is second in steals, so Duke must also keep a lookout for Williams in those regards. For the Blue Devils to come out on top, they must improve on the glass and restrict Williams from bolstering his rebounding numbers.
Ana Young is a Trinity first-year and a staff reporter for the news and sports departments.