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Despite Coach K's absence, Duke, Bagley III dominate Wake Forest

Wake Forest Duke Basketball
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Duke's Marvin Bagley III (35) dunks against Wake Forest during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Wake Forest Duke Basketball
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By SAMUEL EVERS
Sports Writer

Sunday, January 14, 2018

DURHAM — On one particular play on Saturday afternoon against Wake Forest, Marvin Bagley III was not going to be stopped.

During a still-close interval halfway through the first half, Bagley III signaled for, and got the ball, with good position under the basket.

And with a point guard’s bounce in a center’s body, he put up a hook shot. It missed, so he beat every Demon Deacon for the rebound. He put up another shot: another miss, another rebound. Finally, on his third attempt, he was fouled, mercifully ending the possession with two made free-throws.

It was that type of day for Duke’s dominating freshman, who racked up a game-high 30 points, but did more than just score; he also had 11 rebounds, six assists, four steals and three blocks, plus a made three-pointer and a near-perfect 7 of 8 from the line.

It all culminated in an 89-71 win for the No. 7 Blue Devils (15-2), playing at Cameron Indoor Stadium in front of a sellout crowd. It was also a victory for Jeff Capel, the associate head coach who was filling in for Mike Krzyzewski, who was out with a virus. The news was announced about 30 minutes before the game started.

For the game, Bagley III was 11 of 21 from the field. Six of those were dunks.

“That’s my mindset going into every possession — if I see the ball I’m trying to go get it. That’s just the type of player I am,” Bagley III said.

After the game, Grayson Allen, who finished with just two points but grabbed 12 rebounds and dished eight assists, took notice of that first half play, and Bagley III’s energy in general.

“He’s incredible, he has an insane motor,” he said. “There are plays where he’ll get five or six rebounds in a play. He just keeps going. It’s just easy. You just throw the ball in the block and he’ll make the right play.”

Led by 14 first half points from Wake Forest’s Bryant Crawford, the Demon Deacons (8-9) were able to hang around for much of the first twenty minutes, even holding a lead for a brief period.

But the Blue Devils’ defense, which had been a sticking point for Krzyzewski earlier in the week, clamped down and eventually held Wake Forest to just 36 percent from the field.

The turning point came with seven minutes left in the first half — with the score 27-23 in favor of Duke, Wake Forest relented a 19-10 run to end the half, all of a sudden looking at a 12 point halftime deficit.

At one point during the stretch, Alex O’Connell, who entered the game averaging less than five points per game, went on a 9-0 run by himself. He finished with 13, hitting two of his four shots from deep.

As a team, Duke shot 12-23 from three, keeping a Wake Forest defense honest in regards to trying to double-team Bagley III and fellow big man Wendell Carter Jr., who grabbed 11 rebounds of his own.

“Anytime we make shots from the perimiet it’s big for us, because we have two guys inside that are really good, very efficient and can get a whole team in foul trouble,” said Capel, who has now won a game as Duke’s acting head coach three years in a row. “When we’re making shots, it makes it so you have to go out there and guard them because of those (big guys).”

Gary Trent Jr. scored 19 points, finishing only behind Bagley III. Carter Jr. tallied 15 to go with his 11 rebounds.

The offense clicked for much of the game, but the lasting impression for Capel was the defense, which held the Demon Deacons to just 36 percent shooting for the game. It was the Blue Devils second strong defensive effort in a row after being upset by N.C. State and allowing 96 points last Saturday.

“I don’t think it’s just a reaction to the State game,” Capel said of the defense. “I think it’s something that we realize that we need.”

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