DURHAM — Take your pick as to when this one was over.
Maybe it was when Duke made its first four shots. Or when Duke led by 15 before its best offensive player had made a shot. Or one of the two instances in which Wake Forest committed three turnovers in less than two minutes. Or when Tre Jones made a 15-footer to give Duke a 26-point lead.
All of that was in the first half of No. 2 Duke’s 90-59 destruction of visiting Wake Forest on Saturday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Duke (15-1, 5-0 ACC) led 49-23 at halftime, with the cherry on top being two buckets by Jones in the last 25 seconds. First the sophomore guard tipped in his own miss and then, after Wake Forest’s 12th turnover of the first half, he made a mid-range jumper that dropped as the first-half buzzer sounded.
"Well stating the obvious, not a great start for us offensively or defensively. You have to give credit to them," said Coach Danny Manning. "We have to do a better job of not giving as many open looks. … We also had too many turnovers in the first half, as well."
There was never a distinct run in the first half that turned this into a blowout — rather, just a slow burn toward inevitability.
Duke did whatever it wanted to do offensively. The Blue Devils were shooting above 70% until late into the first half, at one point having made 17 of 24 shots. Duke led by 15 before freshman center and leading scorer Vernon Carey Jr. made his first field goal.
The problems weren’t just on the defensive end of the floor for Wake Forest (8-7, 1-4), with 12 first-half turnovers.
Even when the Deacons scored, they were only pockets of success followed by defensive breakdowns. Wake Forest scored on 11 possessions in the first half, and on Duke’s ensuing possession the first 10 times, the Blue Devils answered with a score.
Wake Forest committed seven turnovers in the first 12 minutes. Coupled with Duke’s evisceration of the Deacons’ defense on the other end of the floor — Duke made 14 of its first 20 shots — this game never seemed to be on track to be the nail-biting finish that was seen here 10 months ago.
The second half was a formality that never saw the Deacons come closer than 20 points of the lead. Duke made three of its first four shots, which prompted a quick timeout from Manning.
It had a marginal affect — Wake Forest scored on six of its next seven possessions to cut the deficit from 28 to 22.
Duke answered with an 8-0 run that made it 70-40 with 11:18 left, though, and that meant it was time for both coaches to start tinkering with lineups.
Torry Johnson and Olivier Sarr led Wake Forest with 13 points apiece, and Sarr grabbed a game-high nine rebounds. Sharone Wright Jr. scored a season-high 11 points after playing a combined nine minutes in the last four games combined.