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Then and now: How has Duke men's basketball changed since its first matchup with Wake Forest?

<p>Wake Forest senior Alondes Williams (31) will again be the focus as the Blue Devils host the season's second leg of the home-and-home conference matchup.</p>

Wake Forest senior Alondes Williams (31) will again be the focus as the Blue Devils host the season's second leg of the home-and-home conference matchup.

Before Duke takes the floor back at home against Wake Forest, the Blue Zone brings you back a few weeks to the first time the two teams played and previews the upcoming rematch.


Freshmen lead Duke to victory

The Blue Devils have no shortage of talented freshmen. And they certainly didn’t when they played Wake Forest last month. Finishing as the top three scorers of the contest, freshman stars Paolo Banchero, AJ Griffin and Trevor Keels led Duke to the victory, contributing respective 24, 22 and 11-point performances. Banchero and Griffin were scoring leaders against the Demon Deacons, combining for 46 of Duke’s 76 points. Though Keels had numbers on the board, he primarily provided through his four assists and two steals.

Kings of the paint

Duke managed to get its points in various ways, with strong downtown showings and consistency at the charity stripe. However, where the group shined the most was from inside. Finishing with 44 points in the paint, the Blue Devils were aggressive in driving towards the basket on an overall 24-of-46 mark from inside the arc. Banchero was the top scorer in the paint, as the bulk of his points came from close jumpers and layups. Wake Forest was also impressive in the area, but not to Duke's level, as the Demon Deacons only registered 36 points there.

Alondes Williams pours it in

The last time the teams played, the score was tied five times, and the lead changed six. Undoubtedly the reason behind the back-and-forth was Williams’ ability to put on a double-digit outburst on demand. The 6-foot-5 senior guard was Duke’s greatest threat in the Jan. 12 battle, adding 25 points to the scoreboard, which was the most significant showing of any player on either team. Going 11-of-21 from the field, it’s clear that Williams was a volume threat that the Blue Devils should now look to contain at all levels of the court.


Similar slates

This game has the potential to be a nail-biter given the recent stretches for both programs. Having played 10 games since Duke took on Wake Forest, a lot has had potential to change in its forthcoming battle with the same squad. The Demon Deacons have played nine games since the first battle, and both teams only have had two losses since then. Additionally, even though Duke defeated Wake Forest by 12 in the first meeting, the Demon Deacons have tallied big wins against Blue Devil cross opponents. Such games for Wake Forest include an eight-point win against Virginia, a 22-point win against North Carolina, a 30-point win against Boston College and an eight-point win against Florida State. Duke notably owns lower scoring margins—including two losses—against these teams.

Wake's Williams is still a threat

Since the Blue Devils’ last meeting with Williams, he has only continued to perform at the same threatening level of tenacity he demonstrated against Duke. In all but one of the nine games he has played in since, has he scored less than double-digits. And in six instances, he scored more than 17 points, with numbers in the 20s common for the senior guard. Williams averages 19.8 points per game, 2.8 points higher than Banchero, who is Duke’s leading scorer. In the Demon Deacons’ most recent matchup against Miami, the Milwaukee native had another 25 points to add. The numbers came from high-efficiency clips across the field and charity stripe, which may preview that the paint may not be the only issue for the Blue Devils come Tuesday night.

Back at home

After going on the road for two, the Blue Devils are back in Durham to host the next two games at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The last time Duke and Wake Forest competed, the Blue Devils traveled westward to Winston-Salem. This time will likely be different as Duke gains the home-court advantage—despite nearly identical home-away scoring averages and two home losses to one road conference loss. The Blue Devils may not have a win guaranteed, especially with the uptick in performance the Demon Deacons have had since competing against Duke. However, with the Cameron Crazies packing the always-sold out stands, who is to say they won’t assist in the Blue Devils' game.

Ana Young | Assistant Blue Zone Editor

Ana Young is a Trinity sophomore and an assistant Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle’s 118th volume.


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