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Duke at Wake Forest Game Notes

• Game 30 •

[4 AP / 3 Coaches] Duke (25-4, 12-2) vs. Wake Forest (13-15, 4-10)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012 • 9:00 p.m. • ESPNU

The Opening Tip

• Duke (24-4, 11-2) faces Wake Forest in an ACC road contest on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at LJVM Coliseum. Tipoff is set for 9:00 p.m.

• Carter Blackburn (play-by-play) and Jason Williams (analyst) will call the game for ESPNU.

• Duke is ranked No. 4 in the AP Poll and No. 3 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. The Blue Devils are 51-10 when ranked No. 4 in the AP Poll. Wake Forest is not ranked in either poll.

• Duke and Michigan State are the only teams in the NCAA to rank in the top 5 in RPI, Strength of Schedule as well as the AP and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls.

• Duke and North Carolina are tied for first place in the ACC and each have two games remaining, including their March 3 showdown in Durham.

• Duke is 7-0 in ACC road games this season and is looking to become only the third team in school history to finish 8-0 in ACC road games.

Duke-Wake Forest Series

• Thursday’s game marks the 236th meeting between Duke and Wake Forest, tying it as the most-played series in the ACC.

• Duke and Wake Forest met for the first time on March 2, 1906.

• The Blue Devils lead the series 159-77 and are 10-10 in games played in Lawrence Joel Coliseum.

• Duke has won four straight in the series overall. During that four-game win streak, Duke owns a +18.0 scoring margin. Duke has scored at least 90 points in three of those four meetings.

• The Blue Devils’ last 14 wins in the series have

been by 10 or more points.

• Mike Krzyzewski is 40-23 at Duke against the Demon Deacons. The Blue Devils are 15-14 under Coach K on the road against Wake Forest.

• The Blue Devils have won 24 of the last 29 meetings between the two schools.

• Wake Forest’s last five wins in the series have come in Lawrence Joel Coliseum.

Numbers Game

l Duke has been ranked in the top 10 of the AP Poll for 91 straight weeks, tied for the second-longest streak in NCAA history.

l Duke is 7-0 in ACC road games, marking only the fifth time in school history that Duke has won its first seven league road games. Only three Duke teams have gone undefeated in ACC road play, the most recent being the 1999-2000 team (8-0).

l The Blue Devils have scored at least 73 points in all seven ACC road games.

l The Blue Devils are 14-3 on the year in games decided by 10 points or less. The Blue Devils have seven wins in ACC play by less than 10 points. Duke’s 14 wins by 10 points or less are tied for the second-most in school history.

l Duke won its 25th game of the season last Saturday versus Virginia Tech and now has at least 25 wins in 13 of the last 14 seasons. Duke has won at least 25 games in 23 of Mike Krzyzewski’s 32 seasons as head coach.

l Austin Rivers has been named ACC Rookie of the Week a league-leading eight times. He earned the league’s most recent rookie award on Monday after averaging 21.5 points per game in wins over Florida State and Virginia Tech. Rivers is the ACC’s leading freshman scorer (seventh in the NCAA) at 15.5 points per game.

l Seth Curry has scored 18 or more points in five of the last seven games. He is averaging 18.0 points, while shooting 47.1 percent (41-of-87) from the field and 44.2 percent (19-of-43) from three-point range in that span.

l Miles and Mason Plumlee combine to average 16.4 rebounds and 17.3 points per game. Mason ranks second in the ACC with 9.5 rebounds per game while Miles ranks 10th with 6.9 boards per game. Either Miles or Mason has led Duke in rebounding in 27 of 29 games this season.

l Andre Dawkins leads the ACC with a .414 three-point shooting percentage. Dawkins is 65-of-157 from beyond the arc this season and ranks third in made three-pointers. He set a Duke record for threes in a half with seven treys in the opening 20 minutes of Duke’s win over Wake Forest on Jan. 19.

l Duke averages 24.9 points per game off the bench with 11 games with 30 or more bench points. The Blue Devils have had a double-digit scorer off the bench in 21 of 29 games this season.

l Miles Plumlee is averaging 8.2 points and 12.2 rebounds (4.4 orpg.) over his last five games. The senior forward has grabbed 10 or more rebounds three times in that span.

l Duke’s perimeter defense has improved significantly over the last 14 games. Duke has held those 14 opponents to a .290 shooting percentage from beyond the arc and allowed just three of those teams to shoot better than .350 from three-point range. Only four of those teams have hit more than five three-pointers in a game.

A look back at another amazing Duke win – time to give the Devils their due

DURHAM, N.C. - Duke Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski entered a sweltering and packed media room in Cameron Indoor Stadium and he wanted no part of fielding questions about the Blue Devils perceived or real short comings or areas of needed improvement.  And who can blame him?  His team just pulled off an amazing comeback victory over a game N.C. State Wolfpack team that led his Blue Devils by 20 points with 11:33 on the clock in the second half.

Once again, Austin Rivers hit a huge three point shot with 2:26 left giving Duke a 73-71 lead and one they’d hold onto ending the game with a 78-73 victory keeping them in a three way tie atop the conference.  “When we made that run, I could just feel it.  I could just feel it.  I felt confident.  I love those games,” said an elated Rivers.

While he may have liked the outcome, he was quick to say as did other Blue Devils that they cannot keep digging holes and expect to comeback.  In a span of eight days, Austin hit two of the biggest shots of  the season with one being  a dagger to the heart buzzer beater over arch rival North Carolina.

To give you an idea of the ferocity of the comeback, it was the largest in the Krzyzewski era, down 14 in the half.   “That was an amazing win,” said the Hall of Fame coach who broke the all time NCAA win mark this season.  He continued, “I thought our fans were terrific, they never let us die.”

And Cameron did rock and it sounded like jet aircraft taking off the runway when Rivers nailed the three to put Duke ahead for good.  There were times when every fan in the old girl were standing and it has been while since the collective did that. 

While it seemed bleak for much of the game, the first 29 minutes to be exact, Duke kept the faith, their heart and never quit which payed off in a most big way.  “They thoroughly outplayed us for close to 29 minutes but we thoroughly outplayed them for 11,” said Krzzyewski.

And those 11 minutes were amazing (37-13 run to end the game) for a Duke team that has set the tone for ACC drama of late.  A quick look at the message boards, showed a lot of fans giving up, just as they had in the North Carolina game, only to all come back and dine on a crow sandwich as they celebrated another incredible and impossible to script win.

“Heroic,” was the word Krzyzewski used for Seth Curry in the post game and man was he on the mark.  The junior went to the sidelines with what seemed like a game ending injury and he was escorted to the training room by Duke trainer Jose Fonsesca.    Curry told Fonseca that he didn’t know if he could make a go of it according to Krzyzewski, but he was told he had to and he did and in the process had a story book 2nd half.

Curry dropped 21 of his team high 26 points in the second half in what I feel was his best game of the season.  He drew praise from his coach for his strong play with the ball in his hands and he was a match up nightmare for the befuddled Wolfpack team.  “That was a heroic performance by Seth,” said Krzyzewski.  Duke will scheduled to take a look at his injury today to see if he is a go for Boston College this Sunday.

Now back to Krzyzewski and that hot media room.  A mildly flustered Krzyzewski when questioned by media said, “No, no, no,”when questioned about his concerns.  “You know what I am concerned with today? A celebration of a great win.  Whatever string of things happened, we are 22-4 and ranked in the top five of the RPI all season long. We’re not a perfect team, but we’re a good team,” stated the long time Duke head coach.

And he is right.  Far too often the media and especially the fan base expect perfection yet overlook the fact of the seasons accomplishments to date.  The bottom line is Duke won and they are winning and they are competing with anyone.  Go back and harp on a loss at Ohio State if you like, but this is a better team now and a resilient one at that.

And keep in mind how tired Duke was after starting the season off in China and Dubai, then to Hawaii, New York and then Columbus where they faced a team that had nine days rest and had not played away from home with the Buckeyes.  Just sayin’

While there is no take charge leader on this years team, there is a perpetual will to get better and win and the Blue Devils continue to find ways of hanging around in the top five ranked teams in the country.  This Blue Devils team is finding ways to win in tough situations and that is the mark of a winner.

Pundits, critics and haters will continue to speak of the short comings of Duke while not recognizing their amazing success and a string of two memorable victories.  The media is just like that, some say doing there job, but the fan base should know better and if you haven’t noticed yet, this team is pretty darn good and still learning.

Sit back and enjoy the season as it winds down and leave the nit picking to others.  This team has been amazing and it is time to give the Devils their due.