DURHAM, N.C. – Jon Scheyer could be seen waving his arms exhorting the Cameron Crazies to get louder during a pivotal moment in the 2nd half of Monday’s game against Wake Forest.

Then afterward, he spoke about having his team tune out the noise.

It was a statement that at face value might seem as inconsistent as the officiating in the ACC this season.

In the context of the big picture, though, it makes perfect sense.

Scheyer’s Blue Devils might be ranked 9th in the nation and stand just 1 game out of the league lead after a 77-69 victory that extended their home winning streak against the Deacons to 25. But since getting off to a slow start that included back-to-back losses at Arkansas and Georgia Tech, they’ve been hearing more about what they’re not than what they are.

That’s something Scheyer is trying vigorously to change.

“There’s so much noise sometimes and I just want them to keep believing in themselves. Keep believing in this group,” the 2nd-year coach said. “We have everything you need. You just need to keep growing, keep learning.”

It’s something Duke did well last season. The Blue Devils rallied from a controversial, heartbreaking loss at Virginia to finish the regular season with 6 straight wins before rolling into Greensboro and winning 3 more to claim the ACC Tournament championship.

Scheyer is hoping for the same kind of response after a loss at North Carolina in Chapel Hill 2 Saturdays ago in which he called his team out for not “competing” hard enough.

So far, so good.

Duke needed all the grit it could muster to put the equally tough Deacons away. Even though the Blue Devils never trailed, it took a 62.5% shooting performance in the 2nd half and an arm-waving, crowd-inciting sideline demonstration to finally get it done.

The duo of Mark Mitchell and Kyle Filipowski were the key ingredients to the effort, combining to score 44 points, pull down 18 rebounds and draw 10 fouls on the opposing duo of Efton Reid and Andrew Carr while earning the ultimate compliment from their coach.

“Mark and Flip were men tonight,” Scheyer said.

But they weren’t alone. While teammate Jared McCain added 17 points and 4 assists, his most substantive contribution came on the glass. His 11 rebounds gave him his 4th double-digit effort in the past 5 games.

His sudden rebounding surge has given the Blue Devils an element they’ve been sorely missing. The fact that it’s come from a freshman guard who stands just 6-foot-3 might come as a surprise to some.

But not Scheyer.

“He’s a guy that will do whatever it takes to win. At any cost,” he said of McCain. “We have a smaller perimeter this year than we normally do. We play basically 3 point guards at the same time. We need guard rebounding and Jared has just done such a good job.

“He battles. We let him go to the offensive boards and he comes up with plays. He’s got a great nose for the ball. It’s really all him. He’s just a competitor.”

McCain’s rebounding won’t completely offset the disadvantage Duke will still face against bigger teams with a dominant inside presence, like UNC and Clemson, it will at least help. Especially when combined with the toughness and scoring Mitchell and Filipowski showed Monday against Wake and the calm leadership of senior Jeremy Roach.

The question now is whether the Blue Devils can continue to tune out the noise and create some buzz of their own heading down the home stretch.

“We’ll be right there at the end of the end of this thing. I’m telling you,” Scheyer said. “I believe in these guys so much.”

He also happens to believe in Wake Forest.

Before assessing his own team’s play in his postgame press conference, Scheyer spent the majority of his opening statement advocating for the team his Blue Devils just beat.

“I think Wake Forest is a big-time team. I don’t think they get the respect nationally,” he said, pointing out that Steve Forbes’ team is much different – and much better – than it was before adding Reid and 3-point gunner Damari Monsanto to the lineup.

The Deacons are 11-5 since Reid was granted eligibility as a 2-time transfer on Dec. 6. And Monsanto, who has played only 7 games since returning from offseason knee surgery, is still in the process of playing his way back into shape.

“You look statistically, analytically, all that stuff. They’re really like a top 25 team. I don’t know how you don’t think that’s a tournament team. They’re really good.”

Good enough to be on the right side of the NCAA bubble at No. 35 in the NET rankings before Monday’s Quad 1 opportunity.

But after winning 23 games and getting snubbed 2 seasons ago, there are no guarantees. At 16-8 (8-5) with 7 games remaining, Wake’s postseason fate could still go either way.

That’s why, given the prevailing “the ACC isn’t any good national narrative.” the Deacons would be wise to follow Scheyer’s advice by finishing strong.

And doing whatever they can to tune out all the noise.