Long Time Coming
The ninth-ranked Blue Devils look to prevent No. 8 Wake from doing both in an Atlantic Coast Conference matchup on Sunday night.
Oddsmakers from Online Sportsbook Sportsbook.com have made the Duke -6 point spread favorites for Wednesday’s game against the Wake Forest. Current College Basketball Public Betting Information shows that 54% of more than 238 bets for this game have been placed on the Wake Forest +6.
A little over three weeks has passed since James Johnson's layup with 0.8 seconds left gave then-sixth-ranked Wake Forest a 70-68 home win over then-No. 1 Duke on Jan. 28.
The Demon Deacons (20-4, 7-4) led by as many as 13 before the Blue Devils charged back, only to drop a second straight game to their in-state rival.
On Sunday, the Deacons hope to sweep a series from Duke (21-5, 7-4) for the first time since 1995-96. To do that, Wake must snap a 10-game losing streak at Cameron Indoor dating to an 81-69 victory on Jan. 11, 1997.
While the Deacons are looking to win their third straight overall, they'll also try to avoid a fourth consecutive ACC road loss.
"Like all the games in this conference, it will be a difficult game and a difficult environment and we are going to have to play very hard and very well," Wake coach Dino Gaudio said.
Duke, meanwhile, tries to avoid a third straight league loss as it returns to ACC play after beating St. John's 76-69 on Thursday at Madison Square Garden.
The winner of this contest can move into a tie with Florida State for second place in the conference. The Seminoles trail leader and third-ranked North Carolina by 1 1/2 games after the Tar Heels were upset in overtime at unranked Maryland on Saturday.
Wake can use another big effort from the 6-foot-9 Johnson, who finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds against the Blue Devils last month. He had 24 and 11 in an 87-69 win over Georgia Tech on Wednesday.
The sophomore is averaging 13.8 points and 7.9 rebounds on the season. He finished with 24 and 16 in Wake's 86-73 home win over then-No. 2 Duke in the teams' only meeting last season.
"He's really grown into a leader for us,'' Gaudio said. "He's usually the tone-setter for us.''
While the Deacons are second in the conference averaging 82.1 points per contest, they are allowing 79.0 - 10.5 more than they are giving up on the season - in their last three league road losses since winning 78-68 at Clemson on Jan. 17.
That must change against a Duke team that is allowing an ACC-low 63.6 points per game.
The Blue Devils, though, have yielded 181 points in their two most recent conference games - losses to North Carolina and Boston College. The 101-87 defeat to the Tar Heels on Feb. 11 dropped the Blue Devils to 14-1 at Cameron.
Despite losing four of its last six in the ACC, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski believes simply beating St. John's was enough to get his squad back on track.
"This has been a tough time for us, the last couple of weeks,'' he said. "We were knocked back a little bit and we have to recover. This was a big step in the right direction.''
Gerald Henderson scored 19 points, Jon Scheyer had 18 and Kyle Singler added 15 on Thursday for the Blue Devils, who shot 46.7 percent from 3-point range. It was the first time since Jan. 24 they shot better than 33 percent from beyond the arc.
Singler, the team leader with 16.3 points and 7.9 rebounds, had 22 and 12 against Wake last month. Henderson had 20 points in that contest after being held to 15 total in his previous two games against the Deacons.
Posted: 2/22/09 4:25AM ET