After each Duke men’s basketball game of the season, check back here for the Player of the Game and more. This time, the Blue Zone looks into Jaylen Blakes’ high-energy performance from the bench and how Wake Forest’s fluidity handed Duke its third loss:
One player: Jaylen Blakes
In the absence of preseason ACC Freshman of the Year Dereck Lively II and the highly touted Dariq Whitehead to non-COVID illness, a substantial portion of Duke’s efforts on and off the ball necessarily fell away from its stars. Enter Jaylen Blakes.
The sophomore guard, who usually plays second fiddle to junior captain Jeremy Roach, shimmered amidst an otherwise disjointed performance from his team. Blakes not only led the team in scoring with a career-high 17 points but was tenacious and energetic throughout the game despite the Blue Devils' deficit. Blakes knocked down three of his four attempts from deep—a team high—shot 6-of-7 from the floor, served up three assists, stole the ball three times and grabbed a couple of rebounds as well. Since October’s Countdown to Craziness and the opening games of the season, Blakes has shown clear improvement in his game across the board and increased confidence in his shooting and dribbling abilities. Although the result in Winston Salem, N.C., did not go Duke's way, Blakes put his arsenal on full display and did everything he could to spark a comeback when it least seemed likely.
One word: Clunky
Duke is not a finished product yet—very few teams are this early in the season—but against the Demon Deacons, head coach Jon Scheyer’s team just could not seem to link up the way it wanted to. Shots fell infrequently, rebounds were hard to come by and the likes of Kyle Filipowski, Tyrese Proctor and Roach, all of whom regularly contribute to round offensive efforts, struggled to make impactful plays. With the exception of Blakes and freshman forward Mark Mitchell, who left with their heads held high, the Blue Devils failed to show the same fluidity they did against Ohio State at home or against Iowa in New York. Credit must go to Wake Forest, as it dominated from start to finish, but for a team with the top-ranked freshman class and enough depth to win without Lively and Whitehead, Duke just couldn’t put it together Tuesday. Not a disastrous result by any means, but clunky, to be sure.
One stat: Every Wake Forest starter with double-digit points
Where Duke lacked fluidity, Wake Forest made up for it. The Demon Deacons, led by star point guard Tyree Appleby, put on an offensive clinic Tuesday evening, spearheaded by exceptional performances from all five of their starters. Appleby led the group with 18 points, followed closely by Cameron Hildreth’s 16 points, and the remaining trio of Damari Monsanto, Andrew Carr and Matthew Marsh put up at least 10 points each as well. Additionally, Appleby added eight assists, Hildreth nearly got a double-double with nine rebounds and Carr logged three blocks. A good portion of Duke’s offensive threat came from Blakes’ impact right off the bench or Ryan Young, a usual rotation piece. The Blue Devil starters were thoroughly outclassed by Wake Forest, leading to a relatively comfortable win for the latter and a frustrating performance by the former.
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Andrew Long is a Trinity sophomore and sports editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.