Despite winning 18 of the last 21 games in the series, Duke hadn't won in Raleigh in two years. It looked like NC State would make it three straight early on as Cameron Bennerman ignited the crowd with a thunderous dunk over Williams on a personal seven point run that put his team up early.
The lead would swell to 10 on an Engin Astur three pointer from the corner. Up to that point the Wolfpack's defensive pressure had Duke out of sync offensively, forcing seven steals and nine first half turnovers.
After a timeout, Duke got an unexpected lift from Lee Melchionni, who scored five quick points as the Blue Devils reeled off a 9-2 spurt to cut the lead to three. The teams would trade baskets the rest of the way and head to the break with State up just 41-38.
Melchionni finished with a career high 16 point before fouling out late in the second half.
After intermission, the Blue Devils began to find Williams on the offensive end where the 6'9 junior was too much for any of State's interior defenders. After connecting on just two field goals in the first 20 minutes, he found his rhythm, scoring 7-of-10 second half baskets.
Without Shavlik Randolph in the lineup, Williams had help from the backcourt on the boards as J.J. Redick chipped in with a career high seven rebounds, while freshman DeMarcus Nelson added four along with Daniel Ewing. Williams, the ACC's leading rebounder, finished with just six boards.
Nelson added 15 points, while Redick was held to a season low eight points – marking the only time this year he's failed to reach double figures. Also struggling from the field was Daniel Ewing, who logged 17 points on just 4-of-12 shooting from the field including 2-of-7 from three-point land.
The Blue Devils tied it at 48 early in the second half before Ewing found Williams inside to put Duke ahead for good at 50-49 with 13:38 remaining. Duke would score on their next seven possessions, beginning with a Melchionni three to build a comfortable margin. NC State would get no closer than four points the rest of the way.