The last time Wake Forest beat Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium in 1997, current head coach Jon Scheyer was just nine years old. Twenty-five games and 27 years later, Scheyer and the Blue Devils still have yet to relive that.
Led by a 23-point performance from sophomore forward Mark Mitchell, No. 9 Duke held off a 22-point showing from Demon Deacon guard Hunter Sallis and capped off their three-game homestand with a 77-69 win.
“I thought Mark and Flip were men. I thought they were really tough tonight,” head coach Jon Scheyer said of his starting frontcourt’s performance after the game. “Anybody who doubts their toughness, what they’re about, they don’t know Mark Mitchell, they don’t know Kyle Filipowski. Those guys were just men tonight.”
Mitchell seemed to come up with a pivotal steal in crunch time, poking the ball away from senior center Andrew Carr. However, officials called the ball out on Duke (19-5, 10-3 in the ACC), and Wake Forest was able to hold off an eruption from the crowd. The fans got their way moments later, as senior guard Jeremy Roach hit a big three and a layup through contact to put the Blue Devils up by nine with under four minutes to play.
From that point, Duke needed only to avoid any critical mistakes. But, an uncommon turnover from Roach — who is No. 1 in the ACC in assist-to-turnover ratio — gave the Demon Deacons (16-8, 8-5) life. Another turnover, this time from sophomore center Kyle Filipowski, nearly allowed Wake Forest to get within two. Finally, a stop and a fastbreak dunk from Mitchell sealed the victory.
The Blue Devils were able to hang onto their halftime lead for much of the second half, but they could not put much space between them and the Demon Deacons. Leading by just five at the under-12 minute media timeout, Scheyer put the ball in the hands of sophomore forward Mark Mitchell, who patiently read the defense before hitting a short hook shot.
However, Duke was not able to string together enough stops to pull away, and Wake Forest worked its way back within three. The Demon Deacons slowed down after a timeout, though, and the Blue Devils reopened their lead to nine. This time, it was on the back of Filipowski, who converted two strong layups through contact.
“Tonight, we found a great groove there in the second half,” Scheyer said of the duo, who played the entire second half. “It’s hard to sub Mark, Flip, any of those guys when they have it going. They just did a great job.”
After a slow first half from both squads, the second half opened with a heightened sense of urgency. Each side worked the ball inside immediately and drew a foul, but while it was only the first personal on Filipowski, junior center Efton Reid III was called for his fourth foul. This kept the big man out of the game for a significant portion of the second half.
Reid’s replacement, junior center Matthew Marsh, picked up a foul of his own only a few minutes later. Off a feed from freshman Jared McCain, Mitchell drew contact and finished for an and-one.
Mitchell took the ball coast-to-coast a few plays later, waking up the home crowd. The Crazies made themselves known moments later, when a transition three from McCain ignited Cameron Indoor and forced a timeout from Wake Forest head coach Steve Forbes.
Wake Forest, who did not reach double-digits until less than 10 minutes remained in the first half, finally broke the dam from beyond the arc when redshirt senior guard Damari Monsanto hit back-to-back triples, bringing the game to a tie for the first time all night.
The Blue Devils suffered a slow start of their own, shooting just 35.5% from the field in the first half. So, the two teams continued to trade turnovers and missed shots. The Demon Deacons picked up multiple steals, but failed to convert in transition, while the Blue Devils continued to miss open looks from deep.
Filipowski was able to knock down a midrange jumper at the end of the first half, giving Duke a razor-thin 29-27 lead heading into the locker room after a sloppy opening 20 minutes.
Wake Forest, who came into Monday’s game as the second highest-scoring ACC team in conference play, was ice-cold to start the game. It started the game 0-for-11 from 3-point range, including two missed threes in one possession by junior guard Cameron Hildreth.
“We’re playing at Duke in Cameron. If you get an open shot, that’s a victory. So make it,” Forbes said after the game.
Due to their struggles from the perimeter, the Demon Deacons turned to their size advantage inside to score early. Wake Forest’s first 10 points were inside the paint, a trend that lasted the first 12 minutes of the game.
The real answer for the Demon Deacons’ early struggles, though, was Sallis. The Gonzaga transfer scored 14 of Wake Forest’s 27 first-half points.
After playing their last three games at home, the Blue Devils will travel to Tallahassee, Fla., Saturday to take on Florida State.
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| Assistant Blue Zone editor
Dom Fenoglio is a Trinity sophomore and an assistant Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle’s 119th volume.