/Duke vs. Wake Forest score: Blue Devils roll in Coach K’s return to bench after clearing COVID-19 protocols
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Duke vs. Wake Forest score: Blue Devils roll in Coach K’s return to bench after clearing COVID-19 protocols

ACC media relations

No. 21 Duke held off a pesky effort from Wake Forest at home on Saturday, winning 79-68 as Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski returned from a weeklong quarantine triggered by COVID-19 protocols. The Blue Devils fiddled around and exchanged blows with Wake, which dropped to 0-3 in league play with the loss, before closing the game on a devastating 24-13 run to put the game out of reach.

It wasn’t a flawless performance by any stretch, but it’s a win that lifts Duke to 5-2 on the season and to a perfect 3-0 in ACC play after a rocky start to its season in nonconference play. And to top it off, its stars showed up in a big way. Matthew Hurt went for a career-high 26 points, DJ Steward came within three points of his own career-high, and both Jeremy Roach and Jordan Goldwire combined for 26 points and nine assists.

It was especially encouraging for Duke that it did so without Jalen Johnson, the 6-foot-9 freshman whose lower leg injury kept him out for a third consecutive game. Johnson is the team’s most tenacious rebounder and has served as a crucial initiator of offense in his short tenure in Durham.

The Demon Deacons made things interesting and threatened for the upset, several times taking the lead and making Duke sweat into the second half. But the team hit just six of its 20 3-point attempts and committed 15 turnovers, a losing recipe for most teams but especially so inside Cameron Indoor.

For Duke, it’s an expected but nonetheless important win given its early season struggles and its upcoming schedule. It now moves into a grueling three-game slate of road games in the next two weeks starting with Virginia Tech and culminating with a Jan. 23 matchup with Louisville.