DURHAM, N.C. -- Maybe the folks at Duke should think about inviting Tim Duncan back to Cameron Indoor Stadium when they hold "Senior Night" later this season.
The Blue Devils and their fans certainly would cheer the Wake Forest center, if not for his career then for his imminent departure from the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Duncan and the second-ranked Demon Deacons continued their domination over Duke yesterday. Wake Forest's rather efficient victory was the ninth straight over the No. 10 Blue Devils, as well as the fifth straight on Duke's hallowed and often hairy home court.
Though he took only 12 shots while playing all 40 minutes, Duncan showed why he is widely considered to be college basketball's best player. The 6-foot-10 senior from the Virgin Islands hit nine of them, along with eight of 14 from the free-throw line, to finish with 26 points. He also had 14 rebounds, four blocks and three assists.
"When they get the ball in his hands, he's like having a point guard in the pivot because he passes so well and finishes better than anybody else," said forward Roshown McLeod, who led the Blue Devils with 14 points. "Everyone plays off him so well. He's the best player I've ever played against."
Duke (11-4, 2-2) had some success on Duncan early, frustrating him a bit by double- and triple-teaming him in the post. But after scoring only three times in the first half on a couple of mid-range jump shots and one follow dunk -- the Demon Deacons led at halftime, 3-31 -- Wake Forest coach Dave Odom made the necessary adjustments.
"At halftime, we talked about Duke's game plan, which was obviously to take the ball out of Tony Rutland's hands -- a very smart move we haven't seen all year," said Odom. "We made one adjustment and that was simply, 'OK, let's throw the ball to Duncan or dribble the ball to the foul line and let's sink the defense, throw it out and let's shoot the three."
Wake Forest (12-0, 4-0) needed to use both adjustments at times, and each worked just as effectively. First the Demon Deacons got the ball inside to Duncan, who scored his team's first second-half basket on a simple post-up move. Then they went outside, and wound up hitting their next three three-pointers. They would hit seven of eight on threes in the second half and Duncan made all six of his shots.
The player who did the most damage was not Duncan, who posted a double double for the 21st straight game. Nor was it Rutland, the junior point guard who finished with 12 points and six assists. Or senior forward Ricky Peral, who had 14 points and six rebounds. It was sophomore Steven Goolsby, who hit all three of his second-half threes to break open the game.
"Goolsby hit three huge shots for them," said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Said Goolsby, who finished with 12 points, "Basically the guys on Duke didn't guard me. They must have missed their assignments. I was wide open and when I saw how open I was, my eyes got really big."
The Demon Deacons, who usually win games with their man-to-man defense, opened up a competitive game by making 17 of 27 shots in the second half, 27 of 50 for the game. The defense wasn't bad either, pushing Duke outside of its range with the help of a rare zone. The Blue Devils wound up 22 of 67, including 10 of 29 on threes.
"If they didn't play well, we would have won," said Krzyzewski, whose Blue Devils lost for the second straight game. "I thought they played well and with maturity."
In becoming the first team ever to beat Krzyzewski five straight times at home, Wake Forest again demonstrated why it seems to be distancing itself from the rest of the ACC. But if there was one encouraging sign for Duke, it was the play of freshman forward Nate James.
Playing for the first time this season after undergoing surgery in November to repain torn ligaments in his right thumb, the former St. John's at Prospect Hall star finished with 10 points, three rebounds and two steals in 19 minutes. He hit three of the five shots he took, including two of four on threes.
"Nate James played a great game," said Krzyzewski. "For a kid who has been out for six weeks and hasn't practiced, are you kidding me? What a great game. It makes me kind of wonder where he would be if he had been playing for the last six weeks. I thought his effort just stood out coming off the bench."
What stood out about Wake Forest's bench contribution wasn't just what Goolsby did, but what freshman center Loren Woods (( didn't do. The player most consider Duncan's successor didn't take off his warm-ups despite averaging more than 17 minutes and eight points a game. Odom said it wasn't the atmosphere, but Duke's lack of big men.
Did he ever consider substituting for Duncan?
"I'm not going to do that," Odom said, his voice getting louder in mock anger. "He didn't come back to sit on the bench."
Duke only wishes.
Pub Date: 1/12/97