Thursday, January 29, 2009

No. 4 WAKE FOREST: HIGH-DEF

No. 4 WAKE FOREST 70, No. 1 DUKE 68

Wake Forest played great defense and did everything right except make second-half free throws and good decisions late in the game. Those few lapses allowed No. 1 Duke to work their way back to within two points with less than one minute to play. Two amazing plays transpired that ultimately resulted in Wake’s last second two-point victory.

With 22 seconds remaining, Jon “Crazy Face” Scheyer missed a three pointer and the rebound bounced directly at James Johnson who miraculously stood there and did nothing. Literally, he froze – solid. Had Johnson stepped to the ball and grabbed the errant shot, the game is over. But, like deer in headlights, he didn’t move, and Scheyer grabbed the ball for one last chance.

In classic Duke fashion, Gerald Henderson, who, along with Kyle Singler scored 32 of Duke’s 40 second half points, made a jumper to tie the game with 11 seconds left on the clock.

On the next possession, Wake’s Jeff Teague drove the basket and was tackled. (No foul was called, but that’s consistent in the ACC – the refs rarely, if ever, call a foul on a game winning buzzer beater). Duke’s Henderson grabbed the rebound, but was called for travelling (he may have had some help), and that set the stage for the second amazing play.

Deacon coach Dino Gaudio figured Duke would switch on an inside move on the inbounds play leaving that very same James “Freeze Frame” Johnson with a perfect chance to acquit himself for the prior boondoggle. Johnson slipped the switch, and Jeff Teague hit him with a perfect bounce pass for a virtually uncontested lay-up.

Was Gaudio aware of the fact that it was Johnson who erred so badly in the prior possession when he drew up the game-winning play he described as “drawing in the sand?” We will never know, but it worked.

70 to 68 Wake. Game over.

Johnson had 13 points and 11 rebounds and freshman Al-Farouq Aminu finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Demon Deacons (17-1, 4-1 ACC).

Kyle Singler had 22 points and 12 rebounds for Duke (18-2, 5-1) and Henderson added 20 points. They literally kept the Blue Devils in the game during the second half when Wake’s defense shut down the rest of the team.

(Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

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