What was supposed to be a thing of beauty turned into an ugly skirmish as James Johnson hit a layup with 0.8 seconds left to lift Wake Forest to victory.
Talented freshman Al-Farouq Aminu led Wake with 15 points and Johnson added 13 points and 11 boards for the Deacons, who won despite self-destructing late.
Wake led by as much as 12 during the second half but played sloppily down the stretch. Jeff Teague forced several tough shots and guard Ishmael Smith took two inexplicable shots in the final 30 seconds. Wake also failed to rebound a Jon Scheyer miss late in the game. Gerald Henderson then drained a easy jumper to tie the game at 68.
Jeff Teague missed a wild shot on the other end, but Wake retained possession after Duke was called for a travel on the rebounding scramble.
Duke then left Johnson open on the ensuing inbounds pass to allow an exciting finish to a sloppy game.
The Blue Devil guards struggled in the game, missing wide-open shots and getting beat off the dribble by Teague and Smith.
Meanwhile, Wake had a clear advantage on the inside but took a number of needless, contested shots. Teague had a bad game, shooting 4-14 from the field and dishing out just two assists.
Teague did hit a big 3-pointer to end the first half and appeared to be fouled on a number of drives late in the game.
Wake’s youth showed throughout the game. I still love the Deacons, and winning close games will help them to mature.
Gerald Henderson and Kyle Singler played well for Duke, but I was not impressed with the rest of the Blue Devils.
Duke is obviously undermanned inside but also lacks a dynamic guard. Scheyer is weak physically while Greg Paulus is weak mentally, and both have struggled to shoot consistently from the perimeter.
I enjoyed the broadcast on ESPN. I rarely enjoy the Dick Vitale-Mike Patrick team, but they were tolerable tonight. Dicky V kept his annoying outbursts to a minimum and actually predicted Johnson’s game-winning layup, saying, “Watch out for Johnson with that size advantage in the paint,” moments before he scored to give Wake the victory.
Look for UConn to take over the top spot in the polls next week – and then promptly lose at Louisville Monday night.