After each Duke men’s basketball game this season, check back here for the Player of the Game and more. The Blue Devils squeaked by Wake Forest at home Tuesday evening, and the Blue Zone is here to analyze the game:
One player: Jeremy Roach
Duke often goes where Jeremy Roach takes it. That was certainly the case in Tuesday’s game against Wake Forest. Roach started the game out strong, hitting a 3-pointer en route to 17 points in the first half. That marked a career high in points scored in the first half and record for any Blue Devil player this season. Even though Wake Forest kept it close, Roach was able to maintain Duke’s strong hand on the Demon Deacons.
This game marks an improvement from Duke’s disappointing loss against Wake Forest in December 2022. In that game, Roach scored just nine points and registered five turnovers and just two assists. Tuesday’s dominant performance proves that the matchup against the Demon Deacons was not the issue for Roach. As long as he can stay aggressive from the jump, he can start Duke’s game out strong and give it the competitive edge it needs to win big games.
One word: Composure
Duke had to win this game to help even out the season series with Wake Forest. However, it would not be easy. Even as the Blue Devils leapt to a 48-36 lead towards the start of the second half, the Demon Deacons would not go away easily. They were able to cut the lead to just six by the 10-minute mark, led by guard Tyree Appleby. However, the Blue Devils were able to keep their composure and respond effectively. With approximately five minutes left in the game, Duke was able to attain a 14-point lead. Rookie guard Tyrese Proctor hit a three and Roach made two straight buckets to help the Blue Devils find a cushion.
Nevertheless, Wake Forest kept trying to make it competitive. Behind two threes from guard Damari Monsanto and a clutch layup from Appleby, the lead was cut to four. Off a missed and-one opportunity, Filipowski was able to close the game with an ice-cold three and a clutch dunk to give Wake Forest a taste of revenge and even up the season series at one apiece.
One stat: Shooting percentages
Some games are as simple as who can make more shots. When it came down to the wire, the Blue Devils were much more efficient than the Demon Deacons at converting their opportunities. In the game, Duke shot 50% from the field and was 6-of-17 from three. On the other hand, Wake Forest shot just 37.5% from the field. While they did hit nine treys, they were still shooting just 29% from 3-point range.
Duke’s efficiency speaks to the variety of attacking options it used in its offense. To maintain an edge and keep their lead from escaping, the Blue Devils made sure to take high-percentage shots and make good decisions about their offense. This was the separation that ultimately gave Duke the win, no matter how much Wake Forest fought back. The Blue Devils should continue to aim for high-percentage shots to give them the confidence to close out big games, especially when rival North Carolina comes to town Saturday evening.
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