DURHAM — The only people who could stop Ryan Kelly on Saturday were the officials. Certainly not Wake Forest.
Kelly scored a season-high 22 points in the top-ranked Blue Devils’ 80-62 rout.
Seth Curry also had 22 points, Quinn Cook had a career-high 14 assists and Kelly finished with his fourth straight 20-point performance against Wake Forest.
“He stepped up and he just had the openings and knocked them down,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “He was on his way to a 35-point or 40-point game, really, because we would have kept calling his number.”
When he fouled out with 7:25 left, Kelly was one point shy of the career high he set in his last game against the Demon Deacons 11 months ago.
He was at a loss to explain his knack for putting up big numbers at Wake Forest’s expense.
“It’s just the nature of the game, and it might be how they defend me — I don’t know — but I got open looks, and my guys got me the ball,” Kelly said.
The Blue Devils (14-0, 1-0) shot 46 percent in their Atlantic Coast Conference opener and hit 11 3-pointers — including six during the 25-7 first-half run that put them up big.
They pushed their lead well into the 20s with a Curry-led 18-6 run out of the break in which they scored on nine of their first 10 possessions of the half.
Travis McKie had 22 points and 11 rebounds for Wake Forest (7-6, 0-1), which had nearly as many turnovers (19) as field goals (23) and had its three-game winning streak snapped.
Mason Plumlee added 13 points and 12 rebounds and Rasheed Sulaimon scored 12 points for Duke, which was simply too much for a rebuilding Wake Forest team that has only three healthy non-freshmen on scholarship.
“Our young team played hard,” Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik said. “We need to play better.”
Kelly, who entered averaging 21 points in the previous three meetings in the series, will get another crack at the Demon Deacons when the Blue Devils visit Winston-Salem on Jan. 30.
He had 17 points at halftime of this one, including 13 of Duke’s first 19, with three 3s — including two some 45 seconds apart — during the Blue Devils’ first big run. His 3-pointer 21/2 minutes into the second half pushed him past the 20-point mark for the fifth time in his career.
“I think Ryan has the ability to score 20 points against anybody,” Krzyzewski said. “I do think that when you’re trying to take Mason and Seth out of the game, that it opens it up a little bit more for Ryan, and that’s why Rasheed scoring and Quinn scoring will be big and have been big so far, but will be bigger as we go forward because people will try to take different things away from us.”
Curry, who had 14 points in the opening 20 minutes, capped the first burst with a four-point play that made it 38-21 with 4:18 until the break. He had three baskets during the second run that turned this one into a full-fledged rout.
Those two seniors had the Blue Devils well on their way to their sixth straight win in the ACC’s oldest series and their sixth 14-0 start under Krzyzewski.
Duke didn’t make a 2-point shot until Plumlee’s dunk off an alley-oop pass 11 minutes in — but didn’t need to, not with the 3s falling like this:
Each of the Blue Devils’ first seven field goals came from behind the arc, and Duke finished 11 of 24 from 3-point range.
“I think you take the shots that are there, and as long as they’re good shots, we have confidence,” Krzyzewski said. “We’ll always shoot the 3 here, but if we can stay established with Mason inside and develop a little bit more of a driving game. . We’ll shoot them. We’re a good shooting team.”
Even Cook’s uncharacteristically cold shooting was largely inconsequential: The sophomore point guard was 0 for 11.
C.J. Harris finished with 19 points and freshman Devin Thomas had 12 rebounds for Wake Forest, which was denied its first victory over a top-five team since its most recent one in the series — a 70-68 upset of then-No. 1 Duke in 2009, back when the Demon Deacons themselves were in the top 10. They haven’t beaten Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium since 1997.
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