DURHAM, N.C. — RJ Barrett scored 28 points and No. 4 Duke held on to beat Wake Forest 71-70 on Tuesday night after Chaundee Brown‘s jumper rimmed out at the buzzer.
Tre Jones added 13 points for a sluggish Duke team missing star freshman Zion Williamson for a fourth straight game with a sprained right knee. The Blue Devils (26-4, 14-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) overcame 41 percent shooting and a 16-for-26 showing from the free-throw line to win their 10th straight in the in-state series.
Williamson’s absence, coupled with a rough game from No. 3 option Cameron Reddish, left Barrett as essentially a one-man show for Duke. The Blue Devils — 26-point favorites — trailed by 10 with 16 minutes remaining and never led by more than three until the final three minutes.
Brown had 21 points and 10 rebounds, and he pulled Wake Forest within 69-68 with two free throws with 43.9 seconds left. Duke bled the shot clock before the left-handed Barrett hit a right-handed jumper in the lane to put the Blue Devils up by three with 17.3 seconds remaining.
Brandon Childress hit a layup with 7.4 seconds left, and Wake Forest had one last chance after Duke turned it over while trying to inbound the ball. Childress missed a 3-pointer with about two seconds left and the rebound went to Brown, whose short jumper spun around the back of the iron before falling out at the horn.
Wake Forest: This one will sting for the Demon Deacons, who have struggled throughout Danny Manning’s fifth season while losing nine games by 20 or more points. This one on paper looking like it would be No. 10. Wake Forest responded with arguably its best game of the season — but fell inches short of its first victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium since Tim Duncan’s senior year in 1997.
Duke: There weren’t many encouraging things in this one from the Blue Devils, who once again stumbled early against a lower-division ACC team. But unlike the Georgia Tech and Boston College games — in which they pulled away after falling behind in the first half — they could never shake the pesky Demon Deacons.
Wake Forest: Plays host to No. 14 Florida State on Saturday.
Duke: Visits No. 3 North Carolina on Saturday night.