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

Jaylen Blakes led Duke with 17 points against Wake Forest in December.
Jaylen Blakes led Duke with 17 points against Wake Forest in December.

Before Duke's home-court showdown against Wake Forest Tuesday night, the Blue Zone takes a look at the last matchup between the teams and previews the upcoming game:


Shooting woes

As has been the case for most of the year, the Blue Devils simply struggled to get the job done behind the arc in their first matchup against Wake Forest. The team drained just 8-of-27 from three, and star freshman center Kyle Filipowski went cold in his six attempts. In a game Duke lost by 11 points, it is fair to wonder whether some of those treys could have provided the difference.

Reduced strength

Duke was forced to play its first matchup against Wake Forest without coveted freshmen Dariq Whitehead and Dereck Lively II, who were both inactive due to a non-COVID illness. The Blue Devils felt Lively's absence on the defensive end, as the Philadelphia native currently averages 1.9 blocks per game, and the team only managed two blocks against the Demon Deacons. Additionally, junior guard Jeremy Roach had recently returned from missing Duke's game against Maryland Eastern Shore due to a toe injury.

Blakes’ best

Despite the loss, sophomore guard Jaylen Blakes played a great game for the Blue Devils, scoring 17 points while adding two assists and three steals. Blakes was more consistent than the rest of the team from three, scoring a hat trick from beyond the arc and shooting the best of any other Duke player. Blakes ultimately fouled out, but in his 26 minutes played off the bench, he impressed in an otherwise tough loss.


Ups and downs

Including Duke’s loss in Winston-Salem, N.C., Dec. 20, the team has gone 5-4 across its nine most recent games and fell out of the AP Poll for the first time since the 2020-21 season. In Duke’s four losses over the nine-game stretch, the team made an unfavorable 29.4% of 3-point attempts while having a collective 50-to-52 assist-to-turnover ratio. Simply put, every victory for the Blue Devils has helped their season, but every loss has shown the young team needs consistency. Duke is probably hoping for revenge against the Demon Deacons to motivate itself for a strong regular season finish.

Undefeated at Cameron

The Blue Devils have certainly had a rollercoaster of a season, but one thing remains consistent—their ability to win at home. Thanks partly to the Cameron Crazies and an ever-jubilant crowd, Duke is 10-0 at home, capped off by thrilling wins against Miami and Pittsburgh. The Demon Deacons have not beaten Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium in 26 years and will aim to overcome one of this season's most persistent home-field advantages Tuesday.

Filipowski’s dominance

In addition to a vibrant home court, the Blue Devils have another reliable asset: Kyle Filipowski. The freshman center has arguably been Duke's strongest player this season, and has recently been on a hot streak. In Duke’s last five games, Filipowski has averaged an impressive 22 points and 12 rebounds while making 48.6% of his field goal attempts. Simply put, Filipowski has been an asset for the young Blue Devils, and a player that the team likely hopes can raise their floor against the Demon Deacons.


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