No. 7 Duke Dunks No. 5 Wake Forest 102-92
DURHAM, N.C. - Coach Mike Krzyzewski did what he could to help Duke avoid its first three-game losing streak in nine years. In the end, all he really needed was a career performance from J.J. Redick.
The junior guard scored a career-high 38 points after Coach K shook up the starting lineup, and reserve Lee Melchionni added 15 to lead the seventh-ranked Blue Devils past No. 5 Wake Forest 102-92 Sunday night.
Duke (19-4, 9-4 Atlantic Coast Conference), coming off consecutive losses for only the fourth time in the past eight seasons, had its way with the Demon Deacons in the second half. After trailing by two at the break, the Blue Devils shot 61 percent in the final 20 minutes to reach their highest point total of the season.
Chris Paul had 27 points and Trent Strickland scored 17 for Wake Forest (22-4, 10-3), which fell out of a first-place tie with North Carolina.
Duke center Shelden Williams more than held his own in the matchup with Eric Williams, finishing with 12 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. And Melchionni, a junior who played very little during his first two seasons, came up with big play after big play when the Blue Devils needed it most.
He came in averaging only 6.8 points a game, but beat that total during a 90-second span of the second half. The left-hander swished a 3-pointer for a five-point lead, jumped in the passing lane for a steal that led to his own dunk, then spun in the paint for a short jumper.
On the other end, he drew a charge from Wake Forest guard Justin Gray, who went to the bench with his fourth foul with 14 1/2 minutes left. Duke eventually went ahead 88-69 before the Deacons staged a furious rally to make the final respectable, getting within seven with 1:15 remaining.
The Blue Devils closed it out at the free throw line to win for only the third time in the past six games. They last lost three in a row to complete the 1995-96 season.
This one belonged to Redick, who hit his first six shots after starting the game with some unfamiliar teammates. He and Shelden Williams were with Reggie Love, Patrick Johnson and little-used guard Patrick Davidson, with Daniel Ewing, Sean Dockery and Shavlik Randolph sitting down.
On the opening possession, Davidson repeatedly bumped Paul until the whistle finally blew, and Krzyzewski was up off the bench screaming for an offensive foul on Paul. The infraction went against Davidson, and he left after about two minutes to a raucous ovation.
Krzyzewski rushed out to hug Davidson before he could reach the sideline, and the rest of the Blue Devils quickly did the same.
That set the tone for an emotional first half during which the teams combined for 24 fouls, a total that included offsetting technicals on Dockery and Wake Forest's Jamaal Levy. Later, the usually unflappable Paul got a technical when he shoved the ball in the face of Melchionni, helping Duke take its big lead.
Through it all, Redick continued making shots. He beat his previous best of 34 points from last season and shot 9-of-15, including 6-of-10 on 3-pointers.