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February 28, 2012Winston-Salem, NC - Wake Forest (13-16, 4-11 ACC) twice in the second half cut its deficit to six points after falling behind by 23, but the 19-2 run was not enough as the Demon Deacons fell to No. 3 Duke (26-4, 13-2 ACC) on Senior Night, 79-71.
"I thought we played well and we got the lead, and I thought we let up just a little bit and they never let up," Mike Krzyzewski said. "They got like three and-ones, fast breaks and we were a little bit sloppy with the ball."
Nikita Mescheriakov scored 18 points in his final game in the Joel, but it was Tony Chennault, who scored 17 of his 18 points in the second half to lead Wake's rally.
Jeff Bzdelik fired off two quick machinegun timeouts less than two minutes into the second half after the Blue Devils stretched their lead from 11 to a 17-point advantage.
"We just needed to get down and defend and get some stops, so we can get out and go," Bzdelik said. "We weren't doing that early on, and I about exhausted all of my timeouts in the first three minutes or so of that second half, but I had too. When the light went on and we got some stops we got ourselves going."
And the light did go on as the Deacs forced eight of Duke's 13 turnovers in the second half, which led to Wake Forest's dramatic run. The Demon Deacons had a 22-14 edge in points off turnovers that brought them within striking distance.
"It becomes a game where Mason Plumlee's three-point play was huge play and Ryan Kelly's drive when they got it down to six a couple of times," Krzyzewski said. "Those two plays were key plays and I thought we handled the pressure at the end well and hit our free throws and didn't give up threes."
Kelly scored a game-high 23 points, and Plumlee who is not known for being a stellar free-throw shooter was successful 8-9 attempts from the charity stripe.
Wake's comeback came to a screeching halt after Chennault missed a three-pointer with 1:45 left in the contest. Duke then sank 8-10 free-throw attempts.