Duke-Wake Forest Preview
Grayson Allen spent the majority of his freshman season stewing on the bench and lacking confidence before a breakout performance in Duke's last meeting with Wake Forest.
The rout helped lead to Allen's increased role that he's embraced into this season as the leading scorer for the 14th-ranked Blue Devils, but neither Allen or his teammates should count on things coming so easily this time around against the Demon Deacons.
Duke seeks a fourth consecutive victory Wednesday night as it visits a much-improved Wake Forest squad that has given other ranked opponents fits recently.
The highly recruited Allen saw limited action in coach Mike Krzyzewski's rotation through the first three months of 2014-15, but he scored 27 points and went 9 of 11 from the field in a 94-51 home victory over the Demon Deacons on March 4. He then played key minutes in the Final Four as Duke claimed another national championship.
Allen is averaging a team-high 20.6 points with three 30-point games as a sophomore. He scored 17 in a career-high 39 minutes as Duke (12-2, 1-0) won 81-64 at Boston College in Saturday's ACC opener.
At one point, Allen hit his head on the floor after falling following an aggressive drive and dunk.
''(He's) powerful, and then he's fearless. So he goes with a little bit of a reckless abandon,'' Krzyzewski said. ''He usually is either knocked to the floor or he falls to the floor because of those Herculean plays that he makes. I think you have a greater chance of getting hurt by tempering your natural instincts."
Standout freshman Brandon Ingram scored 25 points and has averaged 21.9 in his last seven games. That increase from his 10.9 average through his first seven has helped the Blue Devils overcome the loss of senior forward Amile Jefferson, who has missed the last five and is out indefinitely with a fractured right foot.
Allen admitted Duke seemed nervous at the start of its first true road game, but it'll have to shake off any of those feelings quickly against a Demon Deacons team looking to make a statement.
Wake Forest (9-4, 0-1) led then-No. 6 Xavier by 18 before falling 78-70 on Dec. 22, and after beating Ben Simmons-led LSU on Dec. 29, hung tough at then-No. 18 Louisville on Sunday.
The Demon Deacons were done in by a 3-of-12 performance at the free-throw line and lost 65-57, but they seem far different from the team that trailed Duke 52-15 at halftime in March.
''Hopefully, this game we finally realize we can't keep letting these opportunities slip by,'' said forward Devin Thomas, who had 24 points in a 73-65 home loss to Duke on Jan. 7 before being held scoreless in the last matchup. ''These are resume builders. We win those two games (and) we're easily in the top 15.''
Senior point guard Codi Miller-McIntyre scored 20 points against Duke, but he's played in only five games this season after recovering from a foot fracture in October. He's shooting 26.7 percent but has started back-to-back games and slowly is getting back to full strength.
''You don't get it back overnight,'' coach Danny Manning said of Miller-McIntyre, who averaged 14.5 points last season. ''You've got to keep chucking ahead.''
Duke has won 10 of the last 11 meetings and both since Wake's 82-72 upset of the fourth-ranked Blue Devils on March 5, 2014.