Zion Williamson and Duke coasted to a cozy ACC road-opening victory on Tuesday night, dispatching Wake Forest in emphatic 87-65 fashion.
Duke and the Demon Deacons tussled for much of the opening half in an entertaining battle that went back and forth, but the Blue Devils pulled away in the minutes leading up to halftime and never looked back. Their eight-point lead into the break ballooned quickly to 10 only 11 seconds into the second half, and the lead never sunk back into single-digit territory.
For Duke, the story of success was the same as ever with a steady diet of Williamson and RJ Barrett. Williamson was both superb and efficient in leading the way. He scored a career-high 30 points on 13-of-16 shooting, including an impressive 3-of-4 mark from 3, to pace Duke. He missed one 3-pointer, one dunk and one layup, but managed 10 rebounds, five assists and four steals — a first-ever stat line for a Duke freshman.
Williamson again put his assets to use to put up his gaudy stat line, hitting 3s, leveraging his massive 270-pound frame to get into the paint, and, of course, smashing dunks and denting rims in Winston-Salem.
Barrett scored 21 points and Cameron Reddish added 10 on 2-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc.
Wake Forest isn’t an ACC juggernaut by any stretch, but this win for Duke, and the manner in which it dominated, is nonetheless impressive. The Achilles heel of the Blue Devils over the last few seasons, which is not a unique problem in college basketball, has been their road struggles. They have a combined 9-11 record on the road the last two seasons and a combined 57 wins overall, so it unquestionably has been a sore spot. Even against a middling Wake team, this is a notable feat.
Getting battered at home on the heels of a deflating double-digit loss to Georgia Tech isn’t the most ideal start for the Demon Deacons in ACC play. And it doesn’t get any easier, as they have to play at Miami on Saturday in a tough road game before facing a murderers row of NC State, Virginia Tech and Virginia over the next two weeks. It’s quite possible, even likely, that an 0-6 ACC start is in play.
Duke, meanwhile, is staring down quite an opposite start. It heads to Florida State this weekend to face a Seminoles team that got smashed by Virginia on Saturday before a two-game homestand against Syracuse and Virginia.
With Williamson playing like a demigod and Duke cranked up to a new level with a relentlessly great defensive identity, it has reeled off eight straight wins to get to 13-1 on the season and 2-0 in ACC play. More taxing tests await, but thus far the Blue Devils have passed virtually every test thrown their way.
Source: Read Full Article