For a pair of teams that played late-night games Wednesday, this could seem like a quick turnaround when Wake Forest visits No. 21 Duke in an Atlantic Coast Conference game on Saturday afternoon in Durham, N.C.
Duke (4-2, 2-0 ACC) hadn’t played since Dec. 16 before an 83-82 win against Boston College, spurred by 25 points from Wendell Moore Jr.
“Just being off three weeks, I think our guys learned that nothing is going to come easy,” Duke associate head coach Jon Scheyer said. “We have to build from this, 2-0 (in the ACC) and keep going.”
Scheyer, a guard on Duke’s 2010 national championship team, guided the victory in his first game in the role of acting coach. He was filling in for Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski, who has been in quarantine because of close contact with a family member who tested positive for coronavirus.
With a scheduled noon start for the Wake Forest game, it’s right about the time that Krzyzewski’s quarantine might expire.
“I’d certainly like to be back by that game if they allow it,” Krzyzewski said earlier in the week. “We’re going to follow whatever the health officials say. I have confidence in my team and my coaching staff.”
This will be Wake Forest’s third consecutive road game to open ACC play, following December postponements. These games come across a seven-day stretch after going more than a month without a game.
Moore, a sophomore who matched his career-best point total set in a double-overtime game last season against Wake Forest, snapped out of a horrid shooting slump that included just one made field goal across a four-game period. So his breakthrough was just what the Blue Devils needed as they overcame a 16-point deficit against Boston College.
“What Wendell did and what he has been through, it’s really hard to fight out of a slump,” Scheyer said. “Just really happy to see he has responded and worked through all that.”
The Blue Devils, who had already lost twice in home games, came up with enough answers. They had five players score in double figures for the first time this season.
“Our guys were just really mature down the stretch,” Scheyer said.
The Demon Deacons (3-2, 0-2 ACC) lost 70-61 on Wednesday night at No. 22 Virginia. There was noticeable improvement from the setback last Sunday to Georgia Tech, particularly with Wake Forest leading throughout the first half.
That’s just not good enough.
“I do not believe in moral victories,” Wake Forest coach Steve Forbes said. “You have to play two halves to win a game, especially against a team like Virginia. We really played as well as we could play in the first half on both offense and defense. It was a big change from the game Sunday at Georgia Tech.”
Wake Forest junior Isaiah Mucius has led or co-led the team in scoring in both ACC games with 21 and 14 points.
It won’t become any easier for the Demon Deacons.
“It is a part of life: Learn from your mistakes, change some skills and you move on and respond to the next challenge,” Forbes said.
There are challenges for Duke as well. Scheyer said there’s pressure for him and other staff members to come through, especially if Krzyzewski is separated from the team.
“I’m proud of the decisions in game,” he said of developments from Wednesday night, “although there’s always things you could do better or differently.”
Duke won 11 consecutive meetings with Wake Forest before the Demon Deacons pulled out a 113-101 double-overtime victory at home last February.
–Field Level Media