Durham, NC - Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly scored 11 of Duke's (14-0, 1-0 ACC) first 24 points in the second half as the Blue Devils built a 25-point lead, their largest of the game, on the way to an 80-62 win over Wake Forest (7-6, 0-1 ACC) to begin conference play.
The sharpshooting senior duo led Duke with a 44 points combined (22 points apiece) on 14-24 from the field, 8-14 from three-point land and 8-11 from the free-throw line.
"The ball seems to go in when I play them sometimes, but that's any game," Kelly said. "I just shoot the ball with confidence and play the game with confidence and if the ball goes in and I do that enough and find other ways to help my team win."
Wake allowed the Devils to shoot 9-16 from behind the arc in the first half, and more often than not traded twos for threes before the break. The Demon Deacons improved their perimeter defense in the second half, allowing Duke to shoot 2-8 from downtown.
Turnovers proved to be Wake Forest's Achilles Heel, as Duke forced the Deacs into giving the ball away 19 times. The Blue Devils scored 19 points off Wake's blunders.
"Our young team played hard, [but] they need to play better," Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "We let the game get away from us in that first half."
"We turned the ball over way too many times. In the second half we cut our turnovers down. We need to execute better under duress. That will all come. It's an experience for seven freshmen to come into Cameron against the No. 1 team in the country. It's an experience that I believe will benefit us greatly as we move forward."
Following the win over Xavier Bzdelik said his team needs to improve its starts. Wake has been by a combined 171-114 by its opponents in the first eight minutes of its 12 non-conference games going into Saturday's trip to Durham. The Demon Deacons trailed 10-7 four minutes into the game, but a flurry of three-pointers by the Devils set Wake back 22-14 just under 12:00 to go in the first half.
The Deacs were unable to trim their deficit lower than six points and trailed by as many as 17 before finishing the first half on a 9-3 offensive surge for a 41-30 halftime score respectively.
Travis McKie scored 15 of his 22 points and grabbed six of his 11 rebounds in the second half, while C.J. Harris poured in 10 of his 19 points following the intermission. No one else reached double-digit points for Wake Forest.
"Me and C.J. can only tell them (freshmen) but so much," McKie said. "They got to experience it on their own. They got a full dose of it today playing against a great crowd and a great team like Duke."
"They had their freshmen moments, but they also played well in spurts, so I'm proud of them."
Alex Murphy's layup with 11:48 remaining in regulation put the Blue Devils up 65-40 before Wake engineered a 22-10 run that whittled Duke's lead down to 13 after McKie's jump-shot with 2:13 to go in the game.
"In the second half we started locking down more defensively," McKie said. "We fought. When we were down 20 we could have packed in. We made the game competitive the whole way, and I like that about my team."
--- Wake Forest turned dished out a meager eight assists to a deflating 19 turnovers.
--- Devin Thomas and Quinn Cook did not score a single point, but managed to impact the game. Thomas pulled down 12 rebounds, while Cook recorded 14 assists.
--- The Deacs were competitive inside, outrebounding Duke 43-35 and the Devils 28-26 in points in the paint.
--- Wake was competitive early in the game, leading three times and tying once before the Blue Devils ran away with it.
Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik
Coach, four minutes into the second half Duke took a 23-point lead. The rest of the ball game was dead even or you may have been a little better. What specifically did you do differently down the stretch? "I just wanted my team to play very hard and like I said initially we need to play better, stick to our defensive scheme and we changed it a little bit."
"In the first half the communication wasn't quite there and we were late on some of the switches and they got airspace on with their threes and we got sucked in on flat drives."
"There's a difference between playing hard and competing. Competing is to do what you can to win and make sure, be determined to win. We're playing hard we just need to play better."
Coach, I know you said you want your team to improve on the way it starts games. How do you feel about the way it started today's game? "That banged three was something we worked on. No, I thought we came out and we got some stops and we did a good job on the boards. Again, we got to finish opportunities around the rim and when you get open shots you got to make them."
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski
Opening statement: "I thought it was a good win for us to get started. I thought [Wake Forest] came out … I thought they played with good resolve. Their two veterans played really well for them. I liked how we passed the ball - 22 assists and six turnovers. It's too bad Ryan [Kelly] got in foul trouble, because he was having one of those days."
"[He] still had a special day; he had 22 points in 18 minutes. And then kind of a weird stat is Quinn's [Cook]; he had 14 assists, no turnovers, but was 0-11 from the floor."
"Sometimes a point guard … they are going after him and trying to be really physical, not just Wake, but everybody, that you're pressuring the ball, you're passing, you're running a team by the time you get to your shot sometimes you just miss that little bit of concentration you need to it down."
"I was proud of him. He didn't let the shooting take away from his defense and play-making responsibilities. Overall a good win for us."