Duke (16-1) vs NC State (10-5)
Durham, N.C. - Cameron Indoor Stadium
TV: ESPN / Tip: 7:30 PM EST
Program Vitals Conference: ACC Nickname: Wolfpack Colors: Red and White Head Coach: Sidney Lowe (3rd season) Career Record at NC State: 45-37
Projected Starters: 4 Courtney Fells (6-6, 210, Sr.) – 10.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg 33 Brandon Costner (6-9, 230, Jr.) – 14.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg 34 Ben McCauley (6-9, 240, Sr.) – 12.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg 24 Julius Mays (6-2, 180, Fr.) – 4.6 ppg, 1.8 apg 21 C.J. Williams (6-5, 205, Fr.) – 2.4 ppg, 1.2 rpg Key Reserves: 12 Farnold Degand (6-3, 185, Jr.) – 4.5 ppg, 1.4 rpg 15 Trevor Ferguson (6-5, 190, Jr.) – 7.3 ppg, 2.4 rpg 23 Tracy Smith (6-8, 240, So.) – 8.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg 31 Denis Horner (6-9, 220, Jr.) - 5.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg
Storylines For NC State:
How They Got Here:
Duke has started 16-1 and raced out to the top of the ACC standings with a perfect 3-0 record in conference play. In each of those three wins it has been the Blue Devil defense that has been the difference maker - holding opponents to less than 53 points per contest.
Meanwhile the Wolfpack enters Tuesday night's contest fresh off breaking a three game losing streak by beating Georgia Tech at home in overtime. So far this season NC State has faced just two ranked teams in Clemson (#12 at the time) and Davidson - losing both of those games. In road games the Pack has posted a record of 1-2.
Duke leads the all-time series135-96, including a 44-23 mark at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils have won two straight in the series and six of the last seven contests.
Duke's Greg Paulus continues to be somewhat hampered by an injured forearm, although he has been able to play through the injury with varying degrees of success.
State And Turnovers:
Perhaps the biggest challenge for the Wolfpack will be taking care of the basketball and limiting turnovers. That's something State hasn't been able to do over the last four games where the team has averaged 19 turnovers on over the last four contests and turned it over 22 times against Georgia Tech on Saturday. Doing that against the Blue Devils will result in a much faster pace and easy baskets for Duke - both of which could propel Duke to a big victory.
State's Productive Frontcourt
Perhaps State's best player is fourth year junior big forward Brandon Costner who is averaging 14.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. While Costner is a big body, he's also capable of knocking down the perimeter jumper and isn't afraid of taking such shots - having knocked down 22-of-60 from down town through 15 games. Costner is also a good free throw shooter (76%) - which could be a factor given the Duke frontcourt's propensity for foul trouble.
Joining Costner on the frontline is senior big guy Ben McCauley who has really come into his own this season averaging 12.9 points and a career best 7.9 rebounds. Unlike Costner, McCauley doesn't got to the perimeter much - preferring to spend his time in the paint as a traditional post which speaks to his 57% field goal percentage.
Duke's Defense v. State's Offense:
For the season the Wolfpack is shooting a respectable 46% (5th in the ACC) from the field and 36% from the perimeter (4th). That's in contrast to Duke's defensive efforts which have limited teams to 31% from the perimeter and 39.5% from the field. Overall NC State is scoring just 71.1 points per game (10th in the conference) while Duke is allowing a league best 60.6 points per game. On the flip side Duke is averaging 80.5 points per game while NC State is surrendering just 62.9 points per game.
NC State has a history of giving Duke a tougher time than they should if you only approach the match up on paper. That being said, Duke should win this game and they should win it comfortably. The Wolfpack's lack of a true point guard and inability to take care of the ball for long stretches will ultimately prove to be the different. Look for the Devils to begin to pull away in the middle of the first half and then cruise to a comfortable victory.
NC State 58