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February 20, 2008
It's a catchy nickname.
It sure caught up to Duke.
And if Wake Forest's "Speed Demons" can spring another epic upset this Sunday like they did last Sunday, it will catch on everywhere.
Jeff Teague and the Demon Deacons stunned Duke 86-73 on Sunday. Teague, a 6-foot-2 greyhound of a guard, torched the Blue Devils for 26 points, including 3-for-3 shooting from 3-point range. He had 18 points and six assists in another victory last week, a 78-71 decision at Florida State. His effort makes him Rivals.com's National Freshman of the Week for the week ending Feb. 17.
"It was a great feeling to beat Duke," Teague told Rivals.com. "They're a great team, a great program.
"We talked about stopping their penetration. DeMarcus Nelson is a great player, and he'll penetrate and kick. We talked about containing them off the dribble and playing them for the '3.' "
Duke had trouble with the speedy backcourt duo of Teague and sophomore Ishmael Smith, who've inspired the T-shirt slogan "Speed Demons" around campus. They helped force the Blue Devils into a season-high 22 turnovers and held them without a field goal for 7-plus minutes in the second half to build a double-digit lead. The Demon Deacons first pushed it to 10, 72-62, on a three-point play by Teague with 4:58 left. Duke never got closer than six the rest of the way.
"I looked up with about a minute left and we were up 10, and I knew if we kept playing defense we'd win the game," Teague said. "It was crazy when the buzzer went off. Everybody rushed the court. It's one of the best feelings I've ever had."
The victory ignited talk of the Demon Deacons reaching the NCAA Tournament. It pushed Wake above .500 in the ACC and into sole possession of fifth place (16-8 overall, 6-5 in the ACC). With the ACC ensconced at No. 1 in the conference RPI, it easily could be a five-bid league.
First-year Deacons coach Dino Gaudio has leaned on a young lineup that includes Teague (12.8 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.7 apg) and fellow freshman James Johnson, Wake's leading scorer (14.8 ppg) and rebounder (8.3).
"Ishmael and I are one of the fastest backcourts in the nation," Teague said. "Then you've got James, who's an inside-outside threat. We like the nickname 'Speed Demons.' "
Wake doesn't play this week until it visits Chapel Hill on Sunday. It's a tall order, but beating the Tar Heels would go a long way toward ensuring an NCAA invitation.
"It starts on the defensive end," Teague said. "Carolina, they lead the ACC in scoring. They put a lot of pressure on you. It's going to come down to defense."
Bob McClellan is the college basketball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.