Quick hits and notes from No. 20 NC State's 84-76 win over No. 1 and previously undefeated Duke in front of 19,557 fired up fans at the PNC Arena in Raleigh Saturday afternoon.
Play of the game
NC State controlled the action for most of the second half, leading by as much as 10 points at one point. Duke never went away however, and when senior guard Seth Curry hit one of his five three-pointers of the game with 10:30 to go, NCSU led just 58-57.
That's when junior forward C.J. Leslie went to work. On the next possession, Leslie calmly nailed a step-back jumper, getting the roll off the front of the rim and backboard, to put the Pack up 60-57. He made another shot, this time in the lane, on State's next possession, and Duke never got closer than a two-possession game after that.
Highlight of the game
Duke led 27-19 for its largest lead of the game after Blue Devil senior center Mason Plumlee stole and dunked the ball with 8:52 to go. NCSU responded by going on a 14-2 run, capped by freshman guard Rodney Purvis skying high for a one-handed dunk on the fast break to put the Wolfpack up 33-29 with 3:49 to go, forcing Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski to call a timeout.
The play started when senior center Richard Howell was able to deflect a Duke pass, and junior guard Lorenzo Brown came away with the loose ball. Brown quickly found Purvis, who finished with authority.
Player of the game
There were a lot of candidates, but we are going to go with Howell. Facing a challenging assignment against Plumlee, who many consider to be among the leading candidates for national player of the year honors, Howell had a monster double-double of 16 points and 18 rebounds in 38 minutes.
That was Howell's ninth double-double of the season and the 22nd of his career. NC State is 21-5 all-time since Mark Gottfried arrived when Howell has a double-double. His rebound total matched a career-best for an ACC game. He also had 18 boards against Virginia last season.
Leslie showed why he was the preseason ACC player of the year with an authoritative performance. He had a game-high 25 points on 9-of-16 shooting and made 7 of 8 free throws. Leslie also grabbed six rebounds and blocked a pair of shots.
That was a new personal-best scoring output in an ACC contest for Leslie, topping the 24 he had last year against UNC in Raleigh. It was Leslie's second-best scoring game of the season behind his 33-point output against St. Bonaventure Dec. 22. Leslie has scored in double figures in 13 straight games and raised his season scoring average to 16.2 points.
Junior guard Lorenzo Brown also had a double-double, his second straight and fourth of his career. Brown recorded 12 points and 13 assists. In a weird stat, Brown had all 13 of NCSU's assists in the game. The assist total matched Brown's career-high from when he had 13 assists against then No. 1 Syracuse last season.
And senior wing Scott Wood did something he had never done in his 119 career games, 117 of them starts: he made all of his shots from the field, connecting on three three-point attempts. To do even better, he made all five of his free throws for the most efficient 14-point performance you will ever see.
Wood now has 272 career made three-pointers, 50 shy of tying Rodney Monroe's all-time school record. With at least 16 games left, Wood would need to average 3.1 threes a game to reach that mark if the Pack were to lose in the first round of the ACC Tournament and not make postseason play.
A gifted offensive team
Krzyzewksi alluded to the fact that the loss of Duke senior forward Ryan Kelly to a foot injury caused problems for their defense. Perhaps that might have played a role in NC State shooting 50.8 percent from the field.
To put that shooting percentage in perspective, Duke had only allowed five teams to shoot better than 40.0 percent from the field in their previous 15 games, and the previous best marksmanship against the Devils had been Kentucky's 49.0 percent in a seven-point Duke win Nov. 13.
NC State has now shot at least 50.0 percent from the field in 13 of its 16 games. NCSU was 30 of 59 from the field Saturday, matching Louisville for the most made field goals against the Devils this year. Louisville though needed 66 shots to get there.
Spotted at the game
New head football coach Dave Doeren and his entire staff were introduced to the crowd during the first media timeout. Doeren spoke briefly to the Wolfpack fans before introducing former defensive end and No. 1 NFL Draft pick Mario Williams.
Several notable basketball recruits were there, including Wolfpack commits Caleb Martin and Cody Martin, twin brothers and junior wings at Davie County High in Mocksville, N.C. Senior center Sidy Djitte, a native of Africa playing at Northwood Temple in Fayetteville, N.C., was also in attendance.
Top junior shooting guard Ahmed Hill of Augusta (Ga.) Aquinas High was also sitting behind the NCSU bench. Hill is rated as the No. 25 prospect in the 2014 class by Rivals.com.
Also there were NCSU's official visitors in football, including sophomore Florida quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who will transfer to either NC State or West Virginia.
From a celebrity standpoint, American Idol winner Scotty McCreery had a front row seat for the contest.
What the win means
NC State improves to 14-2 after winning its 10th straight game, the longest winning streak since the 1988-89 campaign, and 11th straight at home. The Pack is also 3-0 in ACC action for the first time since that aforementioned 1988-89 season. NCSU and Miami are the last two remaining unbeatens in conference action.
Duke fell to 15-1 and 2-1 in conference play. The Blue Devils still lead the overall series with NC State 138-98. Duke is 8-4 all-time in the PNC Arena and 69-57 in games played in Raleigh.
This was just the second time NCSU has defeated Duke when they were No. 1, the other coming in 2004 when the Pack scored a 78-74 win over the Devils in Raleigh. The Pack is 7-27 all-time against top-ranked opponents.
Duke fell to 213-33 all-time when playing as the No. 1 team. This was the first time in four games this year that the Devils lost to a ranked team. Duke also saw its eight-game winning streak on the road in ACC play come to an end.
This was the second time Gottfried has defeated a top-ranked opponent. He helped Alabama knock off No. 1 Stanford in the 2004 NCAA Tournament to advance to the Elite Eight. Gottfried is just the 14th coach in NCAA history to beat the No. 1 Associated Press-ranked team at two different schools.
Other stats of note
- Duke outrebounded NC State 35-34 overall and 13-9 on the offensive glass. The Devils had a 22-16 advantage in second-chance points.
- The Wolfpack had the edge in transition, owning an 22-15 edge in fast break points.
- NC State won the turnover margin 12-11, but Duke was much better getting points off turnovers, 15-7.