DURHAM — Duke was able to overcome adversity on and off the court to beat Wake Forest 89-71 at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday.
The visit from an in-state ACC rival turned into a literal gut check for the Blue Devils, as flu-like symptoms ravaged the team before and during the game.
The first victim of the bug that has been working its way through the Duke campus was head coach Mike Krzyzewski. About 40 minutes before game time, the team released a statement that the Hall of Famer coach wouldn’t be on the sideline, due to a virus.
“He woke up this morning with a virus and wasn’t feeling well,” said associate coach Jeff Capel, who ran the team in Krzyzewski’s absence. “He made the decision that he didn’t want to get our guys sick and didn’t want to put any else in jeopardy, so he made the decision to not coach.”
It’s the third straight year Capel has had to fill in for Krzyzewski at least once. He coached the team to a road win at Georgia Tech two years ago and had a 2-2 record as interim coach following Krzyzewski’s back surgery last year.
“He’s handled it all well,” said senior Grayson Allen, the only player on the roster to witness all of Capel’s pinch-hitting stints at head coach. “It’s been a pretty seamless transition from K to him. I think that’s because Coach Capel played for Coach K. They have a lot of similarities, and he’s had practice at it.”
The players found out just before game time that Krzyzewski wouldn’t be on the sideline.
“We just had to go out there and play our game,” said Gary Trent Jr. “Coach Capel is a terrific coach. We believe in him. Anything he says, we’ll do.”
“It was different, but it’s really the players that have to bring it every night,” added Wendell Carter Jr. “It was kind of a test for us.”
The team was given another test when the flu bug felled Trent Jr. shortly before game time.
“I guess it’s been going around campus,” Trent said. “I knew nothing about it until this morning. It’s most definitely the sickest I’ve ever been for a game. It’s crazy, having it happen in college.”
Trent woke up with stomach trouble and struggled even to make it to the opening tip. “I didn’t do shootaround,” he said. “I just had some IVs before the game. Then I got some rest and went out there about 20 minutes before.”
“We weren’t sure really up until tip if he was going to be able to play,” said Capel. “It’s an understatement saying how good he was today, especially if you saw him right before the game, how he was in the locker room.”
Trent appeared to throw up during an early time out and had a small trash can in front of him, in case he had a relapse while sitting on the bench. After a few minutes, however, he felt well enough to re-enter the game.
“It wasn’t that bad,” he said. “Just having nausea, throwing up in and out of the game, in the locker room, at halftime, stuff like that. It was fine. You’ve got to play through it.”
Wake Forest seemed to think that the ailing Trent wasn’t a threat. They left him open several times in the second half, and each time Trent made them pay, knocking down wide-open three pointers. For the game, he was 6-of-7 from long range, tying the Cameron Indoor Stadium record for three-point accuracy in a game, previously set by Trajan Langdon and Seth Curry.
“To have somebody like that on your team who’s throwing up on the bench on the side, not feeling too good, to have somebody like that come out and still play the way he did and give everything he had, that’s just amazing,” said Marvin Bagley III. “That makes me just want to go harder, too, if I see my teammate fight for us like that.”
Trent finished with 19 points, second highest on the team, behind Marvin Bagley III’s 30. Bagley added 11 rebounds for his 14tj double-double of the season, tying the Duke freshman record.
Wendell Carter Jr. (15 points, 11 rebounds) also had a double-double.
The team has a quick turnaround, with a trip to Miami on Monday night. There’s no indication yet as to whether Trent or Krzyzewski, who Capel said was “doing better” after the game, will make the trip.
Meanwhile, the rest of the team will be looking to elude Krzyzewski and Trent’s fates.
“We’re putting sanitizer on every time we go into the locker room,” said Bagley.
“I hope (no one else gets sick),” said Allen. “Fist bumps around here. No shaking hands.”