Wake Forest 94, Duke 80
Others were either out of gas or out of fouls. Wake Forest freshman Trent Strickland, however, had an ample supply of both and served as the unexpected energy source who helped the 15th-ranked Demon Deacons outlast eighth-ranked Duke in double overtime tonight, 94-80.
With three of his teammates fouled out -- star forward Josh Howard among them -- in a game with 64 personal fouls, Strickland, a 6-foot-5 freshman with a modest 5.2 points-per-game average, scored 10 of his 12 points in the second overtime.
His 10-foot jump shot with 3 minutes 54 seconds remaining erased a 75-74 deficit and put the Demon Deacons ahead for good. Jamaal Levy followed with the last of his 13 rebounds, a putback for a three-point lead, then Wake Forest turned Blue Devils misses into four free throws and two breakaway layups to cap a 12-0 run. With five Duke players looking on after fouling out, Strickland finished off the Blue Devils with four more free throws and a thunderous dunk to close the scoring.
The victory improved the ACC-leading Demon Deacons (17-3) to 7-2 in the conference, a half-game better than the Maryland Terrapins (15-6, 7-3), whom they will face Sunday night in College Park.
"I've been doing this for 30 years, and that's as good as any I've been a part of," Wake Forest Coach Skip Prosser said of the win. "Our guys possessed a tremendous amount of resolve, and we were able to gut one out. We're very fortunate."
The Demon Deacons snapped a 14-game losing streak to the Blue Devils -- their last win was Jan. 11, 1997 -- and avenged their worst loss of the season, a 74-55 shellacking at Duke (16-4, 6-4) a month ago. That result was doubly embarrassing given that the two had entered the game as the country's only unbeaten teams.
"We felt like we had something to prove after the way we played at Duke," said center Vytas Danelius, who scored 20 points and matched his career-high with 14 rebounds. "We wanted to play hard for 40 minutes."
Of course, 50 were required. Daniel Ewing's driving layup with 1:08 to play pulled Duke even at 69 and were the last points of regulation. In the first overtime, Chris Duhon quickly scored five points -- the last of his game-high 23 -- to help the Blue Devils to a 74-72 lead.
Two Danelius free throws with 1:12 remaining tied the game at 74, and after a missed three-pointer from Duke's Dahntay Jones (0 for 12 from the field), Wake Forest had possession with 28 seconds to play.
Strickland misfired on a 10-foot jumper in the lane. He rebounded the miss, but couldn't make a follow shot, and neither could Levy, who got both hands on a tip-in just before the horn sounded.
"I wasn't down," Strickland said. "Coach tells us all the time not to worry about the last play, but worry about the next one. That's what we did."
The Blue Devils, who shot an abysmal 31.5 percent (23 of 73, including 6 of 31 on three-pointers), had no answers in the second overtime, particularly for Strickland's fresh legs.
"He's an energy guy," Prosser said. "I felt he would play well, given the opportunity. Fortunately for us, he did."
Coach Mike Krzyzewski said Duke, which lost a fourth consecutive road game for the first time since 1995-96, put forth the necessary effort.
"I thought it was the hardest our kids have played on the road," he said. "Their kids made a couple more good plays than we did. Once you got to overtime it was going to be a great win for somebody and a tough loss for somebody."
The Demon Deacons got a boost with the return of guard Justin Gray. The 6-foot-2 freshman, who averages 10.5 points, broke his jaw in the first Duke game, underwent surgery the following day and hadn't played since. Sporting a specially designed brace, he entered the game at the 14:43 mark of the first half to a standing ovation and went on to score 18 points in 29 minutes before fouling out.
"It was just great to be back," he said. "I didn't expect anything like this, that's for sure."