WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- With an unlikely chance to win based on how Saturday afternoon's game unfolded, Duke was going to get the ball to Luke Kennard on the final possession.
It couldn't have worked out better for the No. 17 Blue Devils.
Kennard's 3-point basket from the right wing with 6.6 seconds to play gave Duke an 85-83 comeback victory against host Wake Forest at sold-out Lawrence Joel Coliseum.
"He delivered," Duke interim coach Jeff Capel said. "He was in such a rhythm. When you have a guy going like that, you have to keep going to him.
Kennard, a sophomore guard, finished with 34 points for the Blue Devils (16-5, 4-4 ACC), who trailed 81-71 with four minutes to play. He shot 11-for-14 from the field, including 6-for-6 on 3-point attempts.
"We shared the ball well," Kennard said. "I was just kind of feeling it."
Grayson Allen added 19 points for Duke, which was in danger of suffering its fourth loss in five games.
"The way our team fought and battled it meant something today," said Kennard, who poured in 30 points after halftime. "The second half, that's the team we want to be."
Wake Forest guard Bryan Crawford tallied 26 points, John Collins had 20 points and Keyshawn Woods finished with 15 for Wake Forest (12-9, 3-6). Crawford missed on a baseline runner in the final second with a chance to tie.
There were 50 fouls called in the game, with Duke in the most serious foul trouble.
"It was such a disjointed first half and we were in such foul trouble," Capel said. "I was real proud of how we fought and stayed together and pushed each other."
Within 63 seconds, Duke forwards Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles and Amile Jefferson picked up their fourth fouls, with the stretch ending at the 12:56 mark.
Yet Duke was within 59-56 with 11:23 to play and later had the deficit down to one. The Blue Devils were called for 25 fouls in the first 31 minutes, so seldom-used Antonio Vrankovic was summoned. Tatum fouled out with 6:58 left with eight points.
A scrum near the Duke bench with 4:34 to play led to an extensive official review. Brandon Childress of Wake Forest was assessed a technical foul, but a subsequent Duke turnover left the Demon Deacons up 79-71.
Woods bagged a banked-in jumper with 2:09 to play after Duke closed within 81-76 before Kennard, who produced nine consecutive points for his team, answered with a 3. A shot-clock violation gave the Blue Devils another chance and Allen's 3-pointer made it 83-82 with 53 seconds left.
Woods missed a jumper, setting up a timeout and Kennard's go-ahead 3. Giles set a screen to spring Kennard for his final basket.
"We went with our matchups that we went with and he made shots," Wake Forest coach Danny Manning said of Kennard.
It was a devastating finish for the Demon Deacons, who led for more than 30 minutes.
"Getting on one another and holding each other accountable," Manning said of the needed remedy.
Wake Forest built a 42-32 halftime lead by scoring seven of the last eight points of the half. Crawford and Woods combined for 16 of the team's final 18 points before the break.
The Demon Deacons shot 50 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes. Meanwhile, Duke was 5-for-16 on first-half 3-point attempts, enduring a stretch of eight consecutive possessions without scoring.
The leading scorers for both teams had two fouls in the opening five minutes, with Kennard and Collins both going to their respective benches. Collins played only 4 1/2 minutes before halftime.
Allen and Kennard returned to the starting lineup for Duke after reserve roles in the loss to North Carolina State on Monday night.
NOTES: Duke leads the series 168-78, including five victories in a row. ... Wake Forest hasn't defeated a ranked team this season, falling to 0-6 in those situations. ... The last time the Demon Deacons defeated a ranked team at home, it came against then-No. 5 Duke in 2014. ... G Grayson Allen led Duke in scoring in the previous three meetings with Wake Forest. ... Duke was also without coach Mike Krzyzewski on the bench in 1995, when the Demon Deacons won three meetings. ... Wake Forest entered the game averaging 87.9 points per game at home. ... Duke goes to Notre Dame on Monday night while Wake Forest plays Tuesday at Boston College looking for a season sweep.