Mike Krzyzewski wasn’t the only one whose head was spinning when Wake Forest roared from behind to an 82-72 victory over No. 4 Duke on Wednesday at Joel Coliseum.
Scoring 17 straight points, the Deacons shook off the doldrums of a long, frustrating season to out-fight, out-battle and outplay Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils over the final six minutes of easily their biggest upset of the season. In doing so, they notched victories over Duke, N.C. State and North Carolina for the first time since 2008-09, the last season they beat Duke.
Tyler Cavanaugh scored half of his career-best 20 points during that stretch, senior Travis McKie bid a fond adieu to Joel Coliseum with 19 points, Codi Miller-McIntyre had eight assists against only two turnovers and Devin Thomas anchored the inside with eight rebounds and two blocks as the Deacons won for just the second time since Feb. 1.
After Wake Forest improved to 16-14 and 6-11 in ACC play, Thomas was asked to put the victory in perspective. Duke, which got 19 points and 10 rebounds from Jabari Parker and 16 points, four assists and two steals from Rodney Hood, slipped to 23-7 and 12-5 with its second loss in four games.
“This is the best feeling I’ve ever had in my life,” Thomas said. “Because you know what? We all played together and it was a team win.”
Krzyzewski, Duke’s Hall of Fame coach, felt dizzy during a second-half timeout, causing him to drop to a knee. Although he remained on the bench throughout the game, he was advised by the Blue Devils’ medical and training staff not to appear for the post-game press conference.
Assistant coach Steve Wojciechowski stood in and extended Krzyzewski’s regrets that he could not be on hand to answer questions.
“During one of the timeouts he had to take a knee because of dizziness and light-headedness, and it continued throughout the game and into the locker room after the game,” Wojciechowski said. “Us as a staff and we as a team expect a full recovery and certainly are here in support of him.”
Wojciechowski said Krzyzewski had not been ill before experiencing the dizzy spell.
“Obviously we weren’t playing as well as we needed and it was a great emotional investment into the game,” Wojciechowski said. “Maybe the emotion got the better of him. But again, we expect a full recovery.”
Wake Forest shot 50 percent from the floor in the second half and 46 percent for the game, but was perhaps even sharper at the defensive end of the court. Deploying a 3-2 zone most of the way, the Deacons held the Blue Devils – the best 3-point shooting team in the ACC – to only six 3-pointers on 27 attempts and 27 field goals on 63 attempts.
Duke opened the second half by scoring on seven of its first nine possessions to vault from a 36-33 halftime deficit to a 50-45 lead. The Deacons, after playing a couple of possessions of man-to-man, returned to the zone, with certain adjustments.
“Early on in the second half they were hurting us by running a perimeter player through and their two bigs kind of stacked and played off each other,” Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik said.
The Blue Devils still led 66-59 with 5:45 remaining, before foul trouble, Wake Forest’s defensive strategy and the Deacons’ unbridled emotion turned the game around. Scoring on nine consecutive possessions, the Deacons reeled off 17 straight points to take the lead at 67-66 on a drive by Cavanaugh and extended the advantage to 76-66 with only 1:08 remaining.