Game Day: Duke (21-1) vs. NC State (15-5)

The Blue Devils can take steps to assuring another ACC regular season title with a win on Sunday night against NC State. The Wolfpack sit two games behind the Blue Devils with six to play, and were easily defeated in Cameron Indoor. However Herb Sendek's crew is a much different animal at the ESA and will provide a stiff test if Duke is to win a 20th straight game. <I>TDD</I> runs down the match up.

Game Facts:

The game will be televised nationally by Fox Sports Net with Thom Brennaman (play-by-play), Mike Gminski (color) and Dwayne Ballen (sideline) calling the action.

The Series:

Duke-N.C. State Series Data
Overall....................... Duke 128-94
At Cameron Indoor Stadium..... Duke 42-23
At RBC Center................. Duke 3-1
In ACC Tournament............. Duke 13-8
Current Streak................ Duke W 3
Longest Duke Win Streak....... 15 (1941-47)
Longest NCSU Win Streak....... 9 (1973-76)
Biggest Duke Win.............. 99-60 (1/28/67)
Biggest NCSU Win.............. 70-37 (2/18/48)
Duke Under Coach K............ 37-17

This will mark the 223rd meeting between Duke and N.C. State with the Blue Devils holding a 128-94 series lead. Duke has controlled the series in recent years, winning 29 of the past 33 meetings dating back to 1991. Last season, the Wolfpack snapped a 13-game losing streak to Duke with an 80-71 victory in Raleigh on Jan. 22.

Last Time:

On Jan. 11 in Cameron Indoor Stadium, J.J. Redick scored 20 points and Daniel Ewing had 18 to lift No. 2 Duke to a 76-57 victory over North Carolina State. Luol Deng added 11 points for the Blue Devils.

With the victory, coach Mike Krzyzewski earned his 676th win to pass Louisville's Denny Crum for 17th place on the NCAA Division I list. Krzyzewski, in his 24th season at Duke, also earned his 300th win at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Duke held the Wolfpack scoreless for six and a half minutes during an 11-0 first-half run that gave the Blue Devils a double-digit lead. The Blue Devils never trailed and led by as many as 29 points in the second half. Duke shot 51 percent, including 8-for-14 from three-point range.

Notable:

*- Duke will look to extend several winning streaks vs. No. 21 N.C. State on Sunday at the RBC Center. The Blue Devils have an 18-game overall winning streak, a 13-game winning streak vs. ACC competition (includes the 2003 ACC Tournament), a five-game winning streak vs. ranked opponents and a five-game road ACC winning streak.

*- With its 81-55 victory over Clemson on Feb. 8, Duke reached the 20-win plateau for the 39th time in school history, including the last eight seasons in succession.

*- Duke's 21-1 start matches the best record through 22 games in school history. Duke's 1991-92, 1998-99 and 2001-02 teams also started 21-1. The 1998-99 team went 37-1 before losing in the NCAA title game, while the 2001-02 team was 23-1 and the 1991-92 team was 21-1 before those teams lost their second game of the season.

*- Shelden Williams ranks first in the ACC with 12 career double-doubles (tied with North Carolina's Sean May and Clemson's Chris Hobbs)

*- Chris Duhon became Duke's all-time leader with four thefts vs. Virginia on Feb. 11. Duhon has 268 career thefts to his credit. He passed Shane Battier (266) to assume the lead on the Blue Devil steals chart.

*- Shavlik Randolph, a Raleigh native, is the grandson of N.C. State All-America Ronnie Shavlik. Randolph wears the number 42 at Duke because he wants to be "half the player" that his grandfather was (Shavlik wore no. 84 at N.C. State and is noted as a honored jersey in the rafters of the RBC Center

*- Duke, which has won 20 of its last 24 games vs. ranked opponents overall, has handled that situation well this season with five victories vs. ranked competition in 2003-04. The Blue Devils have posted victories over No. 5 Michigan State (road), No. 11 Texas (neutral), No. 4 Wake Forest (home), No. 14 Georgia Tech (road) and No. 17 North Carolina (road).

*- Duke has dominated in-state competition recently, winning 67 of its last 76 (.882) games vs. North Carolina teams since the 1996-97 season. Included in that total is an 18-2 mark vs. North Carolina State.

*- Since its 78-68 loss against Purdue in the championship game of the Great Alaska Shootout, Duke has been dominating in its last 18 games. The Blue Devils' average margin of victory during their current 18-game winning streak is +20.4. Of the 725 minutes played in that stretch, Duke has trailed for just 28:32, less than four percent of the total time. In seven of its last 18 games, Duke has not trailed at all.

*- Duke has been very balanced offensively this season as six players — J.J. Redick (16.9), Luol Deng (14.2), Shelden Williams (12.3), Daniel Ewing (11.4), Chris Duhon (9.8) and Shavlik Randolph (7.9) — are averaging at least 7.9 points per game.

*- Shelden Williams, known as "The Landlord," has blocked a team- and ACC-best 76 shots this season, while Shavlik Randolph (38) and Luol Deng (24) each have at least 24 rejections so far this year. Williams leads the league in blocked shots, Randolph ranks third and Deng is 10th among the ACC leaders. The trio has combined to block 6.27 shots per game, more than all but four teams in the entire country (Connecticut - 9.1, Maryland - 7.5, Syracuse - 6.6 and Jacksonville - 6.4) as of Feb. 9.

Meet the Wolfpack:

Probable Starting Lineup: 
   Engin Atsur (6-3, 185, G, Fr.) – 8.2 ppg
   Scooter Sherrill (6-3, 186, G, Sr.) – 10.6 ppg
   Julius Hodge (6-7, 191, G, Jr.) – 18.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 4.2 apg
   Marcus Melvin (6-8, 230, F, Sr.) – 13.8 ppg, 7.9 rpg
   Jordan Collins (6-10, 232, C, Jr.) – 2.9 ppg, 2.1 rpg
Key Reserves: 
   Levi Watkins (6-8, 227, F, Jr.) – 8.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg
   Ilian Evtimov (6-7, 231, F, So.) – 7.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.1 apg
   Mike O'Donnell (5-11, 160, G, Fr.) – 3.8 ppg, 1.5 apg
   Cameron Bennerman (6-4, 199, G, So.) – 2.0 ppg

The NC State game plan starts with preseason All-ACC selection Julius Hodge (18.9 points, 7.4 rebounds), who has lived up to the early hype by putting up player of the year type numbers for head coach Herb Sendek.

Hodge has spent most of the time as a type of point-forward this year, handing out a career high 4.5 assists per game. He's also improved his shooting (55% from the field and 40% from the perimeter).

Aside from Hodge the Pack are still awaiting a breakout performance from Illian Evtimov, who returned after missing all of last season with a torn ACL in a preseason game. So far he's knocking down just over seven points per game, but has the reputation as a streak shooter who can be deadly when hot.

NC State has also gotten big performances out of Levi Watkins, who has scored 10 points per game so far this year while hitting 41% from behind the three point arc.

One thing this version of the Pack lacks is a traditional post player, which has meant forward Marcus Melvin has been inserted into the paint, though he prefers to shoot from the perimeter instead of battling inside. Last season against Duke at State, Melvin was killer from the perimeter, though he's struggled this year - making just over 25% of his attempts from beyond the arc.

Luckily for Melvin, sophomore big man Jordan Collins has returned from academic ineligibility to give Sendek another viable big body. Other players of note include sophomore wing Cameron Bennerman, and freshman Engin Astur.


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