Quick hits and notes from No. 4 Duke's 92-78 victory over NC State in front of an almost sold crowd of 19,387 fans at the RBC Center in Raleigh Wednesday evening.
Play of the game
Every NC State charge was held off by a big play from the Duke Blue Devils. After trailing 42-28 at halftime, NC State started the second half on an 21-12 run to cut Duke's lead to 54-49 after a three-pointer from Wolfpack sophomore wing Scott Wood. Duke responded though, building the lead up to 58-50 off a drive from senior guard Nolan Smith with 12:13 left in the game. Wood would miss a three-point attempt on State's next possession, and Duke then delivered the dagger. Smith drove to the basket and dished to an open sophomore forward Ryan Kelly in the corner for an open three. Kelly swished the shot to give Duke a 61-50 lead with 11:41 to go, and the Pack never cut the lead into single digits for the rest of the game.
Highlight of the game
After the game, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski remarked how NC State freshman forward C.J. Leslie had pro athleticism. Leslie showcased that when he broke down Kelly off the dribble at the top of the key and then skied through the lane for a one-handed dunk with 8:20 left in the game, cutting Duke's lead to 70-56.
Player of the game
The guards in the ACC seem to be giving State problems, and Duke's Smith may be the best guard in the ACC. He torched the Pack for a game-high 22 points on 9-of-19 shooting from the field and added a game-high six assists and had two steals. Smith did most of his damage driving to the basket, as he went just 1 of 6 on three-point attempts. He was 8 of 13 inside the arc.
Duke automatic from two-point land
Smith was not the only Blue Devil to to light it up inside the arc. As a team Duke made 27 of 44 two-point shot attempts, or 61.4 percent. Duke was just 7 of 23 beyond the arc for 30.4 percent. Coming into Wednesday night's contest Duke led the ACC making 40.8 percent of their three-point attempts, but they have struggled in five conference games on three-pointers, making just 37 of 121 attempts for 30.6 percent.
Nevertheless, despite their long-range struggles, Duke shot 50.7 percent from the field Wednesday night against NC State, becoming the second straight team to make more than half of their shots against the Pack after NCSU had held their first 15 of their first 16 opponents to under 50.0 percent. Wisconsin was the lone team to make exactly half their shot attempts in the first 16 contests.
Duke's 92 points surpassed Wisconsin's total of 87 as the most given up by the Wolfpack this year. The Blue Devils' 42 first half points were the second highest halftime production against State behind the Badgers' 44, while Duke's 50 second half points were the second most given up in a half this year, trailing only Florida State's 56 second half points last Saturday.
During their three-game ACC losing streak, NC State has particularly struggled on defense in the second half. Boston College scored 47 second half points during a 75-66 win in Chestnut Hill Jan. 11.
Duke's 92 points was their highest output since putting up 108 points against UNC Greensboro Dec. 29, and the first time in five ACC contests that the Devils went over 80 points in a game. Overall it was Duke's fourth highest scoring game of the year.
First half shooting woeful
In addition to NC State's defensive struggles, the Pack was also done in by some dreadful first half shooting. The Pack made just 8 of 37 shots in the first half for 21.6 percent. That was the Pack's worst shooting half of the year. They made 24.0 percent (6 of 25) of their shots in the first half of their 67-50 win over Youngstown State Dec. 16. Last Saturday against FSU, NC State got off to a similarly slow start, making 8 of 30 shots for 26.7 percent in the first half.
The freshmen trio of Leslie and guards Lorenzo Brown and Ryan Harrow went a combined 0 of 17 from the field in the first half.
The second half went better for State. The Pack made 17 of 31 shots for 54.8 percent and scored 50 points. That was the most points Duke has given up in a half this season, and NC State ended up with the second highest point total the Devils have allowed behind 79 points from then No. 6 Michigan State Dec. 1.
Five NC State players finished in double figures, led by senior center Tracy Smith's 19 points. Smith nearly had a double-double with nine rebounds. Leslie added 13 points points and eight boards. Wood and Harrow had 15 each and sophomore power forward Richard Howell scored 10.
After the game, Wolfpack head coach Sidney Lowe hinted that he may have to make some decisions in the back court after playing Harrow the entire 20 minutes of the second half. Starting point guard Javier Gonzalez, a senior, only played six minutes Wednesday night and finished with four points, no assists and one turnover.
Harrow rebounded from a tough first half to score 15 points and added five assists with just one turnover.
State also went big for the first time this season at the start of the second half. Lowe said that they had hoped to used the line-up before but due to foul trouble could not break it out until Wednesday night. Harrow was at point guard with the 6-foot-7 Wood at shooting guard. Leslie moved over to small forward and Howell played power forward with Smith in the paint. That line-up allowed Wood to guard a less physical player and stay out of foul trouble.
Spotted at the game
The Word of God Academy in Raleigh trio of center Joseph Uchebo and guard Bishop Daniels, both seniors, and guard Torian Graham, a junior were behind the NC State bench. Uchebo is a Wolfpack signee while Graham is a major target in the 2012 class. Daniels has signed with Miami.
Former players David Thompson, Tommy Burleson, Phil Spence, Andrew Brackman, Ernie Myers and Simon Harris were also at the game. Former football player Mario Williams was also reportedly at the game.
What the loss means
NC State falls to 11-7 on the season and 1-3 in the ACC while Duke improves to 17-1 overall and 4-1 in the conference. Duke moves into a first-place tie with Boston College at the top of the league while NC State is tied with Virginia for 10th in the standings.
Duke now leads the all-time series 136-97 overall, 69-56 in games played in Raleigh and 7-3 at the RBC Center. Duke has also won 29 of the last 34 games in the series. NC State is just 17-58 in games against Duke when the Devils are ranked in the top 10. The Pack is 0-3 against ranked opponents this year and is 9-22 against rated teams under Lowe.
Also of note is that for the second straight game NC State never had a lead, and there were no ties either Wednesday night. The last time NC State had a lead was 60-57 with 4:20 left against Boston College. The Eagles tied the game with a three-pointer with 4:03 remaining, and the Pack has not led for a second since then, a span of 44 minutes.
Other stats of note
- Duke outrebounded NC State 44-34 overall and 26-16 on the offensive glass Despite that NC State had a slight 19-17 edge in second chance points.
- The Devils outscored State 32-30 in the paint, and their bench outscored State's reserves 28-27.
- NC State had a rare win in the turnover margin, giving it up just nine times compared to 11 for Duke. NC State also had a 16-13 edge in points off turnovers.
- Neither team had a lot of fast break points, with Duke having a 6-5 advantage in fast break points.