It was just Duke's fifth loss in the last 33 games against the Wolfpack, but the second straight time a Blue Devil team ranked seventh in the country has lost at the RBC Center joining the 2004 team which lost on the final possession.
This time, however, the outcome was never in much doubt throughout the second half as Sidney Lowe's offense continually found and converted open looks from the field - shooting 58 percent overall and 42 percent from the perimeter as a team.
Aside from Horner and Smith, the Wolfpack got double figure contributions from all five starters. Most notable was point guard Javier Gonzalez who logged 15 points and eight assists while shooting four of nine from the field. The much maligned point guard's biggest shot came as Duke appeared to be making a run as the game moved into the home stretch. With the shot clock winding down, Gonzalez hit a fall-away three pointer over the outstretched arm of Miles Plumlee to make it a 77-67 game with 3:58 remaining. Such an incredible shot was the norm for the home team most of the night.
It was a completely different story on the other side as the Blue Devils fell to 3-2 in conference play - two games behind league leading Virginia in the loss column.
The Blue Devil offensive attack never seemed to find the range from the floor - hitting just 22-of-57 from the floor and five of 13 from the perimeter. Most of the problems could be traced to Duke's inability to take care of the ball or deal with the NC State pressure. Duke committed 14 turnovers - many of which were simply a case of throwing the ball away or, worse, losing control of the ball off seemingly routine passes.
Once again junior Kyle Singler and senior Jon Scheyer struggled from the floor - hitting just a combined 11 of 32 field goal attempts. However the duo did manage to convert 18-of-22 from the free throw line.
If Mike Krzyzewski and his staff are going to turn things around on the road it won't be easy as the Blue Devils head to Clemson on Saturday night. Both teams enter the game with 3-2 ACC records with the Tigers looking for payback after a 21 point Duke victory earlier this month.
Of course that game was in the friendly confines of Cameron Indoor Stadium. Saturday's test will come in a much different setting. One in which the Blue Devils have yet to prove much at all.