WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Kyle Singler scored 24 points and keyed the run that helped No. 4 Duke pull away from pesky Wake Forest in an 83-59 victory Saturday.
Ryan Kelly added a career-high 20 points on perfect shooting and Nolan Smith shook off a slow start and finished with 19 on 6-of-22 shooting for the Blue Devils (18-1, 5-1 Atlantic Coast Conference).
The league's highest-ranked team took care of its worst down the stretch, using two big runs to outscore Wake Forest 42-27 in the second half. Duke won its fourth straight and claimed its second victory of the week on an instate rival's home floor.
Travis McKie scored 12 points for the Demon Deacons (7-13, 0-5). They had separate droughts of 9½ minutes without a field goal and 7 minutes without any points, and lost their fifth straight and 10th in 12 games.
C.J. Harris pulled Wake Forest to 44-40 with a 3-pointer with 17½ minutes left. Singler took over after that, reeling off nine consecutive points for Duke to start the 17-4 run that pushed the lead into double figures to stay.
After Smith converted a three-point play to make it 61-44 with 12½ minutes to play, the Demon Deacons didn't get closer than 11. The senior co-captain later stretched the lead into the 20s during a run of 15 straight points for Duke, hitting a free throw with 5:15 left to make it 72-52.
Mason Plumlee finished with 10 rebounds, his fourth straight game in double figures in that statistic. Kelly was 6 of 6 from the field, 4 for 4 from the free throw line and hit four 3s for Duke, which beat North Carolina State by 14 three nights earlier in Raleigh.
Harris and Gary Clark added 11 points apiece for the Demon Deacons.
This one had all the makings of a mismatch, with the ACC's best shooting team — Duke, at 48 percent — seemingly capable of scoring at will against the league's worst defense; Wake Forest allows its opponents to shoot 44 percent. The reigning national champions lead the league in turnover margin while the Demon Deacons are last — one of 14 of the league's 21 stat categories in which they rank 10th or worse.
Yet Wake Forest — which was coming off its worst offensive performance in more than 50 years, a 74-39 loss at Georgia Tech — did enough to keep things competitive into the second half before the Blue Devils took control.
This was Duke's first visit to the Joel Coliseum since 2009, when the Demon Deacons — one week removed from the second No. 1 ranking in school history — knocked off the then-top-ranked Blue Devils 70-68.
Since then, the drop-off has been staggering for Wake Forest, which has changed head coaches and had its roster completely overhauled by graduation and early defections to the NBA. The only current player who saw significant minutes for that team is Clark.