Tracy Smith led all scorers with 23 points as the NC State Wolfpack (13-6) contained the #7 Duke Blue Devils (15-3) and beat them 88-74 at the RBC Center in Raleigh, NC last night. The heat has been turned up in the Capital City. The Pack handed the Blue Devils only their third loss of the season and it was done in convincing fashion.
Regardless of the fact that Duke’s Kyle Singler scored 22 points and teammate Jon Scheyer added another 18 points, the Pack defense was relentless and swarmed the Duke offense to create numerous turnovers, which they took advantage of. Seeing their deficit grow to as much as 17 points, Singler and Scheyer fought valiantly to score as many points as possible to narrow the gap. However, even with missed shot attempts, the Pack made clutch baskets when they counted. Javier Gonzalez nailed a three-pointer with one second left on the shot clock with about four mintues left in the game to keep the Blue Devils scrambling to catch up.
The Pack did what was required by containing the Duke offense and having its top performers step up, which included Dennis Horner, who added 20 points despite playing with a nagging knee injury. On paper both teams had similar stats, but the difference was in shooting percentage from the floor as Duke shot 39 percent compared to NC State’s 58 percent performance. Coupled with their gritty defense the Wolfpack did not falter at the free throw line, as they are apt to do, and finished with a respectable 73 percent average.
What does this game mean for each team? For Duke, not much other than the fact that everyone will question if they can win a road game this year. They are the team that people predicted to win the ACC, but what is changing is who will challenge them for that title in March. With this win, NC State may be one of those teams if they can continue playing consistently for the remainder of the season.
Next up for the Wolfpack is the Maryland Terrapins as they head to College Park, MD on Saturday before returning home to Raleigh to host the #23 UNC Tarheels (12-7), who lost last night to Wake Forest 82-69. That loss is the Tar Heels’ third in a row and will be a motivating factor for them to redeem themselves as they do not play again until next Tuesday when they meet the Wolpack at the RBC Center. The Pack will continue their quest to capture the crown of Tobacco Road and attempt to knock off the Tar Heels as they did the Blue Devils.
Be there in person: Check the Wolfpack web site as single game tickets are still available, but will probably go fast after last night’s game. The last time that NC State beat the Tar Heels at the RBC Center was during the 2006-2007 season. Who knows, you may witness another rush of fans on the floor as was witnessed last night. There is a good chance that it will happen.