GAME NOTES: Continuing their quest for consistency, the 23rd-ranked Duke Blue Devils play host to local rival NC State in an ACC clash at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils are coming off a much needed victory over a tough Virginia squad on Monday, 69-65. With the win, Duke moved to 13-4 overall and pulled even in league play at 2-2. Duke is a perfect 10-0 in Durham this season and looks to continue its current win streak on its home floor.
Mark Gottfried's Wolfpack would like nothing better than to continue Duke's descent and perhaps even show the Blue Devils the door in terms of a national ranking. NC State will need to shake off its own slow start to league play however, as the Wolfpack are a mere 1-3 in the ACC following Wednesday night's one-point loss at Wake Forest (70-69).
Duke holds a 140-98 series lead with NC State and has won four of the last five meetings overall. The Blue Devils have also won 15 straight against the Wolfpack at home. NC State's last win in Durham came back in 1995.
In a tight battle down the stretch, both NC State and Wake Forest delivered big plays. The Wolfpack got a pair of free throws from Desmon Lee to take a 69-68 lead, only to have Wake's Codi Miller-McIntyre hit a runner in the waning moments to give the Demon Deacons the win. The Wolfpack had an eight- point lead at halftime, but shot just .292 from the floor after the break, including an ugly 0-of-9 from behind the arc in the loss. Star forward T.J. Warren was once again the driving force for NC State, posting a game-high 22 points. Jordan Vandenberg added 10 points and seven rebounds from his center position.
Warren was right on his season average, as the 6-foot-8 sophomore leads the ACC in scoring at a hefty 22.2 ppg. Warren, who is shooting a cool .505 from the floor, also leads NC State in rebounding (7.3 rpg), as well as steals (25). Anthony Barber and Lee provide balance in Raleigh with strong play in the backcourt, netting 11.5 and 10.2 ppg, respectively. On the season, NC State is shooting a healthy .462 from the floor, although it only produces a modest 72.5 ppg.
Despite its lack of dominance thus far, Duke remains one of the most dangerous squads in the country. The Blue Devils can certainly win games at either end of the floor, but their real strength comes offensively, where they are averaging 81.9 ppg on .482 shooting, including a .411 effort from behind the arc. Freshman phenom Jabari Parker has hit a bit of a wall in his first season in college, but continues to pace the team in both scoring (18.8 ppg) and rebounding (7.3 rpg). Rodney Hood (18.4 ppg) is a playaking forward who can score both inside and out as well. Quinn Cook is extremely efficient at the point, as both a potent scorer (13.2 ppg) and deft distributor (5.9 apg). Depth comes in the form of Andre Dawkins (8.8 ppg) and Rasheed Sulaimon (8.1 ppg).
With under 20 seconds to play, Sulaimon knocked down a huge 3-pointer to provide the Blue Devils with the cushion needed to knock off the pesky Cavaliers. Sulaimon finished the game with a season-high 21 points to pace all scorers. Hood poured in 14 points, while Amile Jefferson recorded a double- double with 10 points and 15 rebounds. Parker continued his mid-season slump, finishing with just eight points, on a disappointing 3-of-11 shooting.
The Blue Devils need to find their groove as conference play starts to move on. They should find it at home against the Wolfpack here.
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