Quick hits and notes from NC State's 88-74 win over No. 7-ranked Duke in front of 18,925 fans at the RBC Center in Raleigh on Wednesday night.
Play of the game
Duke was trying to creep back into the game late in the second half. After NC State went up by their largest lead at 69-52 with 8:55 left, the Devils responded with a workmanlike 10-1 run to cut the lead to 70-62 with 5:42 remaining. Junior forward Tracy Smith stopped Duke's run with a pair of free throws with 5:21 left, but Duke junior forward Kyle Singler responded by scoring on a drive to the basket with 4:46 to go, and Duke called a 30-second timeout.
Out of the timeout, freshman wing Scott Wood beat the press for a driving basket, but Singler answered with a pair of free throws with 4:28 remaining. On State's next possession, the play stalled and with the shot clock running down, junior point guard Javier Gonzalez had to settle for a long, contested three-pointer over 6-foot-10 sophomore center Miles Plumlee. On a night where everything seemed to be going right for the Pack, Gonzalez made it, giving State a 77-66 lead with 3:53 to go and putting the dagger in the Blue Devils.
Player of the game
On his 22nd birthday, Smith set the tone for NC State from the opening tip. He abused Plumlee in the opening minutes, scoring 12 of NC State's first 19 points. Plumlee was so ineffective in his defense of Smith that he was relegated to a reserve role for the rest of the game. He only played 10 minutes and did not score. Smith on the other hand made 10 of 12 shots. 3 of 4 free throws and finished with a game-high 23 points and team-highs five rebounds and three blocked shots. He added a steal and had just one turnover in 37 minutes for good measure.
Welcome back Javi, Dennis
In the previous edition of quick hits, we wondered what had happened to Gonzalez and senior forward Dennis Horner. They seemed to break out of whatever slump they had been in against Duke. Horner scored 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting. It was just the second time this year Horner reached 20 points in a contest.
Gonzalez was especially effective in the second half and finished with 15 points on 4-of-9 shooting and added a game-high eight assists versus just two turnovers. Gonzalez actually had as many assists as the entire Duke basketball team.
All starters do well
Wood and fifth-year senior guard Farnold Degand did their parts as well. Wood made 3 of 5 shots and did not force the issue when Duke clearly schemed to take away his outside shot. Wood made his lone three-pointer of the game and finished with 10 points. He has now scored in double figures in six of his last seven games and in four of five ACC contests.
Degand made 3 of 6 shots and 4 of 5 free throws to finish with 11 points, and he added an impressive six assists with just one turnover. Degand is averaging 11.7 points per game since he became a starter against Florida State, and he has reached double figures in scoring in four of the Pack's last five games.
Duke fans had to have asked themselves at halftime if NC State could possibly keep shooting like they did in the first half. The Pack made 16 of 25 first half shots for 64.0 percent, easily NC State's best shooting performance in a half against ACC competition this year. Unfortunately for them NC State did keep shooting well.
Against what Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski called the worst Duke defense of the year, the Pack shot 32 of 55 for the game for 58.2 percent. That is the third best shooting performance of the year for the Wolfpack. That easily topped the 50.9 percent shooting by St. John's for the highest shooting percentage by a Duke opponent this year.
The vaunted Duke pressure defense was not a factor in this game, either. NC State had just nine turnovers, only the second time this year a Blue Devil opponent had turned it over less than 10 times. Duke also blocked a season-low one shot and had just four steals, two off their fewest this year.
NC State had 18 assists on their 32 made baskets. The assists total were the most by a Duke opponent this year. The Pack also became the first team to break 80 points on Duke this season. NC State was also responsible for the highest scoring total allowed by FSU when the Pack defeated the Noles 88-81 in Tallahassee Jan. 12. FSU and Duke rank tied for first and fifth in the conference in scoring defense respectively.
Pack D makes Duke O less effective
Duke shot just 38.6 percent from the field for their second worst shooting performance of the year and only the second time this year they were under 40 percent shooting.
Singler and senior guard Jon Scheyer in particular struggled. They finished with 22 and 21 points respectively, but Singler was just 6-of-16 shooting while Scheyer shot 5 of 16. Only junior guard Nolan Smith was effective, making 7 of 14 shots, including 2 of 3 three-pointers, for 18 points. One game after the Plumlee brothers Miles and Mason combined for 30 points and 21 rebounds in a win over Wake Forest, they had just two points and six rebounds against the Pack.
Duke finished with just eight assists, the first time this year they had fewer than 10 in a game, and they had 14 turnovers, only the third time all season they had a negative assist to turnover ratio. The 14 giveaways were also one off a season-high for the Devils.
Spotted at the game
Former Pack stars Tommy Burleson and Vic Molodet were honored at halftime. Two-thirds of NC State's recruiting class, shooting guard Lorenzo Brown from Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., and point guard Ryan Harrow from Walton High in Marietta, Ga., were also in attendance.
Sitting next to Harrow was top senior target C.J. Leslie, a forward from Word of God Academy in Raleigh. Fans chanted "We want Leslie" at the end of the game must to the delight of Leslie's mother. Sharp-shooting wing Antonin Galaya from Charis Prep in Wilson, N.C., was an unofficial visitor for the second consecutive game.
What the win means
NC State improves their record to 13-6 overall and 2-3 in the ACC while the Blue Devils fall to 15-3 and 3-2 in league action. Duke has now lost six of their last eight ACC road games. Duke is 0-3 in road games this season, 15-0 at their home court of Cameron Indoor Stadium or on neutral sites.
NC State is tied with Boston College for eighth in the ACC, while Duke dropped into a four-way tied for third in the league.
Duke leads the overall series with NC State 135-97, 68-56 in games played in Raleigh and 6-3 at the RBC Center. The teams have split the last six games in Raleigh however. This is only the fifth time in the last 33 games that NC State has defeated Duke. NC State also went 2-1 in their stretch of three straight ACC ranked opponents over an eight-day span. This was the only regular season scheduled game between Duke and NC State this year.
Other stats of note
• Duke dominated on the boards 40-28, 17-6 on the offensive glass, although that number is skewed in part by the dramatic differences in shooting percentages. This is the first time this year Duke lost a game where they outrebounded their opponent.
• Duke had a decisive 19-2 edge in second chance points.
• NC State had a 36-28 points in the paint advantage and where more effective in transition to the tune of a 14-11 edge in fast break points.
• Despite NC State committing five fewer turnovers than Duke, both teams had 16 points off turnovers.
• State's bench slightly outscored Duke's 9-8.