Monday, February 18, 2008

Oh! The Horror! Blue Devils Torched by Freshmen Deacons

Wake Forest 86, (2) Duke 73
Freshmen James Johnson and Jeff Teague scored 50 points between themselves and Wake Forest did what no other ACC team has done this season: they beat Duke.

Johnson, a 6-8 forward, scored 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting and snagged a career-best 16 rebounds. The Blue Devils had no answer for the big man, and when he wasn't dancing inside, Teague was blazing from the perimeter, scoring a game-high 26 points, including 3-of-3 from 3-point range.

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Duke simply could not guard every on the floor efficiently, as all five of their starters fouled out of the game. Kyle Singler, who was coming off his best performance of the season against Maryland, was 6-of-10 and scored 17 points, but the shooting was off for Duke. Greg Paulus was only 1-6 on three-pointers, and Duke shot just 41% for the game, much of that attributable to the Deacons pressure defense.

Other alarming stats for Duke showed up at the free throw line. Wake Forest went to the charity stripe 38 times - unusual against a Duke team which almost always gets to the line more than their opponent - and the Blue Devils were also shabby at the line, making only 13-of-25. Wake Forest hit 27 of their freebies - 71%.

While the loss was not critical for Duke, the win was important for Wake Forest, a team squarely on the bubble at 16-8 and now 6-5 in the conference. The win over the #2 team in the country certainly improves their chances for an at-large bid, though they still have to travel to #5 North Carolina next Sunday before filling out the regular season schedule with winnable games against Maryland, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and NC State. 19-10 or 20-9 overall should be good enough, considering only five teams in the ACC have winning conference records right now.

Notre Dame 71 Rutgers 68
The Fighting Irish aren't very good on the road and it showed as they struggled past Rutgers. The Irish managed only 41% shooting from the field, though they did manage to hit 8-of-17 3-pointers (47%). Rutgers was simply worse, hitting only 38% including 9-of-25 beyond the arc.

UCLA 56 USC 46
In the West Coast version of Last Man Standing the Bruins, who used only 8 players, outlasted the Trojans, who used just six. USC turned the ball over 22 times against the Bruins trapping defense and were outrebounded, 38-31. Freshman standout O. J. Mayo was held t a season-low 4 points.

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