DURHAM, N.C. - They were supposed to be tired, having finished with North Carolina State late Thursday night. They were supposed to be tested, what with fourth-ranked, once-beaten Wake Forest coming yesterday to play at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
The No. 2 Duke Blue Devils didn't make any excuses. Instead they made a statement: Duke is still the team to beat in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Behind a shot-blocking defense, led by sophomore center Shelden Williams, and some terrific shooting by guards J.J. Redick and Daniel Ewing, the Blue Devils easily dispatched of the Demon Deacons, 84-72.
It was the 11th straight victory for the Blue Devils, who play at Maryland on Wednesday night.
Despite missing his first free throw of the season after making 54 straight, Redick finished with a game-high 23 points. Ewing scored 20. Each made four three-point shots, often coming when Wake Forest was trying to make a run.
But it was Williams who set the tone by blocking a career-high eight shots, all in the first half, and altering many others throughout a game in which Wake Forest, the ACC's top scoring team, shot 35.3 percent from the field (24 of 68).
"When [Williams] is playing that way, it makes us that much harder to beat," said Duke point guard Chris Duhon, who had a career-high 14 assists.
Williams, who leads the ACC in blocked shots this season, made it difficult for the Demon Deacons nearly from the beginning. After Eric Williams scored on Wake Forest's opening possession, the Demon Deacons made just one basket in the next seven minutes.
Duke (14-1, 4-0 ACC) jumped out to an 11-point lead on a three-point shot by freshman forward Luol Deng (15 points). The Blue Devils led by as many as 12, and after Wake Forest (11-2, 2-1) briefly cut the deficit to four, they stretched the lead back to 11 by halftime.
The Blue Devils led by as many as 18 in the second half.
"Obviously in the first half, Shelden Williams was a horse inside," said Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser, whose Demon Deacons lost their second straight game. "The second half, they shot the ball [well] every time we made a little run."