From The Stands: Duke-76, NC State-57

The Blue Devils opened the home portion of the ACC schedule in resounding fashion Thursday night, throttling the NC State Wolfpack 76-55 in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicated. <I></I> takes a look at what went right, wrong, and looks ahead to Saturday's game against Wake Forest.

What Went Right:

The shot selection was as good as it has been all season throughout much of the game. The perimeter players got open looks, and knocked them down while keeping the Pack honest with dribble penetration from each of the three guards.

All tolled the combination of JJ Redick and Daniel Ewing combined for 38 points on 12-of-21 shooting, including a blistering seven of 11 from beyond the arc. Meanwhile senior point guard Chris Duhon continued his streak of well played games, adding nine points, nine assists, and six rebounds.

The team's hot shooting carried over from the field (27-of-53) to the free throw line where they converted 14-of-17 including four more added to Redick's consecutive free throw streak.

Once again the Blue Devils owned the boards (31-24) despite Coach K going with a smaller lineup with Ewing, Redick, and Duhon all starting alongside Luol Deng and Shelden Williams.

Defensively the Wolfpack were completely unaware or simply unable to deal with the ball pressure applied by the Devils, coughing it up 20 times on the night – seven times giving up possession on a Duke steal.

While the box score shows a number of things Duke did well, one thing that won't show up is the way in which Coach K's troops kept their heads despite some antics from NC State's Julius Hodge. After a jam, for State's first two points of the game, Hodge pulled himself up on the rim woofing, quickly earning himself a technical foul. The woofing continued throughout the game (despite the nearly 30 point lead at times) until a body slam of Sean Dockery for a fifth foul earned him a seat on the bench complete with seven points and just as many turnovers with his team trailing 76-49.

What Went Wrong:

Despite the terrific showing from the outside, it would have been nice to see more attempts for Randolph and Williams inside. At times you could see the duo battling for position and demanding the ball – hopefully they'll continue to get fed more and more as the season goes along. Still, on this night, the outside attack was too good to pass up it seemed.

At times the Duke defense, for as good as it was, seemed to be a bit lax as State had a number of chances to coast in unmolested for easy layups. While it's easy to take a break when you're up 30, the radio announcers noted Coach K wasn't pleased as he implored his team to develop a "killer instinct".

Player of the Game:

It's hard to pick between Ewing and Redick, though the nod goes to JJ on this night for his all around performance and the continuation of his free throw streak. When he's on, he's deadly from anywhere on his side of half court it seems. You have to think Herb Sendek can't wait for Redick's graduation date in another two seasons.

Did You Notice?

Luol Deng's statline is a bit shocking, but the freshman managed to quietly score 11 points, grab nine rebounds, and hand out a pair of assists. But did you notice it?

Looking Ahead:

Duke hosts Wake Forest in a battle for first place and conference superiority on Saturday afternoon. With the game being played at Cameron, it falls in the "Must Win" category for the Devils as they cannot afford to drop home games in this race. Wake is coming off a bad loss at Texas, and will be fired up.

Key match ups include freshman Chris Paul against Duhon, and Wake's Eric Williams facing off against Duke's Shelden Williams inside. It could come down to fouls as both big guys have been foul prone at times this season.

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