Kennard’s ridiculous second half rallies Duke past Wake Forest

Duke’s Luke Kennard, left, and Duke’s Grayson Allen, second from left, celebrate with teammates after Kennard’s game-winning basket against Wake Forest in the second half of an NCAA basketball game in Winston-Salem, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. Duke won 85-83. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

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Duke’s Luke Kennard, left, and Duke’s Grayson Allen, second from left, celebrate with teammates after Kennard’s game-winning basket against Wake Forest in the second half of an NCAA basketball game in Winston-Salem, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. Duke won 85-83. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Sophomore from Franklin goes for 30 after halftime

A bad week for No. 17 Duke was on the verge of getting even worse. Instead of getting tense, Luke Kennard loosened up — just in time to save the game for the Blue Devils.

Kennard hit a 3-pointer with 6.6 seconds left and Duke rallied to beat Wake Forest 85-83 on Saturday.

“I thought we fought, we let out, we were free,” said Kennard, a two-time Mr. Ohio Basketball at Franklin High School. “We had freedom.”

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The 6-foot-5 sophomore finished with 34 points — one shy of his career high — and Grayson Allen had 19 for the Blue Devils (16-5, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference). Kennard was 6 for 6 from 3-point range and Allen went 5 for 11 from beyond the arc.

For most of the day the preseason No. 1 team appeared headed for its fourth loss in five games, trailing for more than 30 minutes and falling behind by 10 with less than 4 minutes to play.

Kennard — hampered by early foul trouble — scored 30 points after halftime. He hit each of his 10 second-half shots and scored 12 of Duke’s final 15 points, including 11 after the Blue Devils fell into that late hole.

“I was kind of inward, I was thinking about, ‘What can I do to help us?’” Kennard said. “I wanted to change that in the second half and just be all about what’s going on around us, and not let anything affect the way I play.”

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Bryant Crawford scored a career-high 26 points, John Collins added 20 and Keyshawn Woods finished with 15 for Wake Forest (12-9, 3-6), which was denied its first home victory over a Top 25 opponent since its last victory over Duke in 2014.

After Allen’s 3 with 52.5 seconds left pulled Duke to 83-82, the Demon Deacons worked on the clock before Woods missed a 3 over Kennard. Harry Giles grabbed the rebound and the Blue Devils called timeout.

Allen inbounded the ball to freshman Frank Jackson, who hit Kennard as he curled around the right wing and the sophomore guard buried the go-ahead 3.

“Luke was a beast for us in the second half,” Allen said.