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Eric Williams is a beast. Wake Forest’s bruising forward to dismantled Duke’s Sheldon Williams this afternoon. Eric Williams had 12 points and 6 boards in the first 10 minutes of the game and continued to make his presence felt for the remainder of the game. Eric Williams started off the game by challenging Sheldon Williams to step up his game on the defensive end which resulted in Sheldon picking up two quick fouls which had him glued to the Duke bench for the majority of the first half. Eric Williams quickly realized that Duke didn’t have anyone else in the paint that could slow him down so he combined with Trent Strickland to go 8-11 from the field to score all of Wake’s first 21 points of the game.
Wake Forest continued to put pressure on Duke and they went on a run when J.J. Redick went to the locker room to get his knee checked. Wake Forest took advantage of Duke’s absence of their star senior and pulled to within one at 20-19. Once Redick returned Duke went on a 11-2 run to pull ahead 31-21 and it looked like Duke would coast to yet another victory.
Cue the Justin Gray show.
Gray refused to let his Demon Deacons go down without a fight and he stepped up his game by hitting a big three. On Duke’s following possession Duke was charged with a charge and coming out of a TV timeout Gray hit another three to pull Wake Forest to within four points at 31-27. Gray then continued his shooting clinic with another bomb to pull Wake Forest to within three at 33-30. Wake Forest refused to show any mercy and continued to put pressure on Duke by knotting the game at 33 with 1:23 left in the half after Michael Drum stole the ball and made an uncontested lay-up. As the half was winding down Redick tried to take it to the rim but Eric Williams was there for his second block of the half. Wake then committed yet another turnover and made the problem worse by committing a quick foul on Josh McRoberts. McRoberts missed his free throw to allow Wake Forest to head into the half with a 36-34 lead. Wake Forest finished with a 15-3 run. The stars of the first half for Wake Forest were Williams and Gray who combined for 23 points.
After heading into the half riding a high Wake Forest came out for the second half and disaster stuck. Gray picked up two quick fouls to place him in foul trouble and he spent most of the second half stuck to the bench. With Wake Forest unable to initiate the offense with Gray out of the game and their guards unable to get Eric Williams the ball in the paint what started out as a nail biter turned into a laugher for Duke. After playing in some tight games the past two weeks Duke was able to pull out to a 14 point lead late in the game and it looks as if they have their confidence and swagger back just in time for March Madness.
Despite the blowout win Duke fans will have some worries because the team will be limping into the ACC Final tomorrow afternoon. Just before the half Sean Dockery got blind-sided by a legal screen by Ellis and had a hard time getting off the hardwood. Earlier in the half JJ Redick banged knees with Justin Gray and had to be taken to the locker room to get a knee brace. Later in the game Josh McRoberts fall awkwardly on his ankle but he made two thunderous dunks later in the half so it looks like his ankle will be fine.
To be successful next season Wake Forest needs to find a PG that won’t turn over the rock.. The Demon Deacons were crippled when Chris Paul declared for the NBA Draft too late for them to declare another floor general and they will be in loads of trouble if they don’t find two guards this spring to replace Gray and Paul. Wake Forest head coach Skip Prosser was losing his mind on the sidelines as Wake Forest continued to lose the ball due to poor ball handling by his guards.
Sat 03/11/06, 3:49 pm EST