Preview: Duke (16-6) v. NC State (12-11)

The Blue Devils will take on NC State on Saturday afternoon - it's the first time in 19 days Duke has played at home. The game will begin at 2:00 PM EST.

NORTH CAROLINA STATE WOLFPACK
12-11 Overall, 2-8 Conference 

PROJECTED STARTERS

F- 00 Abdul-Malik Abu (11.9 ppg, 8.7 rpg)
G- 12 Anthony Barber (22.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 4.8 apg)
G- 15 Cody Martin (5.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg)
F- 24 Maverick Rowan (13.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg)
C- 21 BeeJay Anya (4.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg)

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STAR WATCH

Junior scoring guard and one time fringe Duke target Anthony Barber is having himself quite a season.  An extremely quick and aggressive lead guard, Barber leads the teams in assists and scoring.  Originally he struggled from the outside, but now the 6-2 guard has shown he can knock down the open shot (36 percent), and he’s one of the league’s best free throw shooters (87 percent) as well.  Why does that matter?  Because Barber will be in attack mode throughout the game and will likely play close to the full 40 minutes.  He’s averaging 8.3 free throw attempts per game.

Inside, where Duke has struggled tremendously at times this season, the Wolfpack will rely on starting power forward Abdul Malik-Abu for scoring and rebounding.  He’s averaging 16.8 points and 7 boards per game over the last four contests.      

THE STORYLINES

INJURIES LINGERING

Both NC State and Duke lost key players early in the season.  For the Blue Devils it was the loss of starting power forward Amile Jefferson who was averaging a double-double while also anchoring the Duke defensive efforts.   Jefferson suffered a broken foot in December when Duke was 8-1 on the season.  Since that time the Blue Devils are 8-5.  Meanwhile, for NC State, the loss was West Virginia transfer Terry Henderson who was tabbed as the team’s starting shooting guard.  But Henderson was lost to an ankle injury on the season’s opening night.  Neither player is expected to play on Saturday, though various rumors and rumblings have Jefferson’s return beginning to appear on the horizon. 

LAST TIME 

Duke was vulnerable heading to Raleigh four games back, but were able to win the rebounding battle and ride big performances from Grayson Allen and Brandon Ingram.  

Allen scored 28 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and handed out seven assists while Ingram added 25 points and seven rebounds as Duke rallied from a 10 point first half deficit to beat NC State 88-78.

Early on the Wolfpack couldn’t miss, hitting three pointers from all over the court - several contested - to build a double figure lead before Duke countered with a 14-0 spurt that put the Blue Devils ahead for good.   

Notebook:

- Duke will play its first home game in 19 days on Saturday when it hosts NC State. The team went 2-1 on a recent three-game road stretch.

- Duke leads the NCAA with a .827 (201-42) winning percentage since the start of the 2009- 10 season and ranks third nationally with a .946 (105-6) home winnning percentage this decade.

- Duke features two of the top five scorers in ACC play, as Grayson Allen (20.2) ranks second and Brandon Ingram (18.9) is fifth in league play. 

- Duke averages 8.9 three-pointers per game overall and 9.2 per game in ACC play, both of which lead the league. Duke is the only ACC school with three players (Allen, Ingram, Jones) shooting better than 40 percent from long range for the season (min. two made per game). 

- Luke Kennard leads the nation with a .920 free throw percentage, which would set a new Duke freshman record. Duke has made 396 free throws this season, the ninth-most among major conference teams.

They Said It:

“We’ve played against Ben Simmons this year from LSU, we played against Brandon Ingram, and wouldn’t be surprised to see his name called first this year. He’s that good. And he was good today, especially in the second half.” - Mark Gottfried on Brandon Ingram

The Prediction

Duke fell behind early against NC State in the last matchup as the Wolfpack knocked down open looks and some not so open chances as well.  The rally came as the man-to-man defense locked down and the Blue Devils limited the Wolfpack to one shot per possession for much of the second half.  With the teams running it back in Cameron on Saturday, the way to win remains the same for Duke.  Play the Wolfpack to a draw on the glass.  Attack the rim and manage foul trouble.  If that happens, the Blue Devils will win again.  And, really, it’s a much needed win as Duke can’t afford any more “bad” losses with the rest of the schedule setting up.  We look for Coach K’s return and a return to the friendly confines to help Duke put on a spirited performance on Saturday  So, our pick is…

Duke - 79
NC State - 71


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