DURHAM, N.C. – Seemingly little went to plan for ninth-ranked Duke after halftime Tuesday, from being without its retiring Hall of Fame coach to blowing a huge lead in its famously rowdy arena.
The Blue Devils responded with composure to win anyway, led by their 34-year-old coach-in-waiting on the sideline and Mark Williams' final crash of the offensive glass.
Williams dunked in Paolo Banchero's missed drive with 0.4 seconds left to help Duke beat Wake Forest 76-74 on Tuesday night, capping a wild game that saw Mike Krzyzewski not coach after halftime because the team said he was “not feeling well.”
“It was really unusual circumstances," said associate head coach Jon Scheyer, who led the team in Krzyzewski's absence.
Indeed, and that drama carried to the final play.
With Wake Forest having only a desperate final chance, Damari Monsanto took the inbounds pass and heaved a one-handed throw to the far end that appeared to be a bit late. The ball hit the glass then bounced off the rim before falling away, nearly sucking the air out of the famously rowdy Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Instead, the Blue Devils were able to celebrate, then Scheyer said Krzyzewski addressed the team afterward.
“He was still in the building and we got to see him for a few minutes," Scheyer said. "He was happy, but he needs to take care of himself right now and go from there.”
Scheyer, who has been designated as Krzyzewski's successor when he retires after the season, said his mentor needs rest. But he nor the school offered additional details on Coach K, who turned 75 years old on Sunday.
The game also included Duke (22-4, 12-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) rolling to a 19-point lead after halftime, only to watch Wake Forest (20-7, 10-6) rally to tie the game at 74 on Alondes Williams' free throws with 17.5 seconds left.
Duke’s Paolo Banchero drove the paint on the ensuing possession but missed, only to see the 7-foot-1 Williams snatch the ball and throw it down to roars from the Cameron crowd and a big fist pump from Scheyer.
Officials immediately signaled for a replay review to see if Williams had touched the ball on the rim. That led to a prolonged stoppage with officials at the monitor, with Duke’s players near the sideline motioning to count the basket and Wake Forest’s side waving off the basket.
“I didn’t think it was goaltending,” Williams said. “I thought I got it off the rim. ... It was a good game, a little scary obviously. But we found a way to win so that’s the most important thing.”
Officials finally signaled that the basket counted, sending a frenzied crowd erupting in a tension-releasing roar — only to nearly see Monsanto hit a shot that would have surely led to yet another review had it gone in.
“I thought he made it, I did,” Wake Forest coach Steve Forbes said. "Would it have counted? I don't know. I couldn't tell. Probably not here, you know how it goes."
Williams had 16 points and 10 rebounds for Duke, while Wendell Moore Jr. had 16 points, six rebounds and five assists.
Jake LaRavia had 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Demon Deacons, who lost for the 23rd straight time at Cameron. Williams, the ACC scoring and assists leader, finished with 18 points after being limited to fewer than 8 minutes due to three first-half fouls.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons had already secured the program’s first 20-win season since 2010 and are looking for even more in a remarkably fast turnaround under their second-year coach. But ultimately their long streak at Cameron grew a little longer — with the last win coming in January 1997 during program great Tim Duncan’s final season.
“We've got a lot left on the table," Forbes said. "It's a tough loss. It's going to hurt. It should. We'll learn from it and move on.”
Duke: The Blue Devils entered the night tied with Notre Dame for the ACC lead after wins at Clemson and Boston College. They held on in this one with five players in double figures, including Banchero (13 points) and fellow freshman A.J. Griffin (12).
MORE ON KRZYZEWSKI
Krzyzewski was dealing with an apparent issue roughly midway through the first half, holding his forehead while Scheyer and fellow associate head coach Chris Carrawell seemed to be checking on him from either side on the bench.
During a later timeout, trainer Jose Fonseca checked on Krzyzewski both at the beginning and the end of the stoppage. By the end of the first half, Krzyzewski appeared to be fine, standing up to applaud or shout instructions — only to not return after the halftime horn.
“He normally comes in and talks to us," Moore said, “but instead Coach Scheyer came in and informed us what was going on, the situation.”
This is the third time Scheyer has led the Blue Devils in the past two seasons.
He led Duke to an 83-82 win against Boston College last season with Krzyzewski sidelined by COVID-19 protocols, then last month's 76-64 against the Demon Deacons with Krzyzewski out with what the school called a “non-COVID-related virus.”
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons host Notre Dame on Saturday in a matchup of teams near the top of the league standings.
Duke: The Blue Devils host Florida State on Saturday.
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