It would be easy to pick Ryan Harrow or Tracy Smith, but sophomore Scott Wood had a very strong game against the Blue Devils.
Wood finished with 15 points, on 4-of-7 shooting, all three-point attempts. He also knocked down all three free throws and recorded 3 rebounds, an assist, and a block in 31 minutes of action.
The 6-foot-7 wing also did a solid job defensively on Duke star small forward Kyle Singler. Matched up with Singler for much of the game, he limited the 6-foot-8 All-American to 2-of-10 shooting from the field in the opening 20 minutes. Singler finished by hitting just 6-of-18 field goal attempts.
Wood came into the game leading the ACC in three-pointers per game (2.7), and was fourth in three-point percentage (.430). NC State needs to find a way to get him open more often as the Pack must have Wood attempting double-digit shots every game.
PLAYER OF THE GAME - DUKE
Entering Wednesday's game most thought this one would be an easy one... either Nolan Smith or Kyle Singler. However, the dynamic duo combined to shoot just 15-of-37 from the field (41%) and were clearly the focus of NC State defensively.
That opened up the floor for Duke's other players, and one of them was Mason Plumlee, who was effective offensively and defensively for the Blue Devils. The 6-foot-11 sophomore scored just seven points on 3-of-6 shooting from the field, but he snatched a game-high 10 rebounds, recorded two assists, and was a defensive difference maker early in the game.
Plumlee blocked five shots in the first half, keying a defensive effort that held State to just 21.6% shooting from the field. The Pack shot 55% in the first half, but couldn't overcome the 14-point deficit they faced at halftime and a major factor in Duke's lead was the play of Plumlee.
PLAY OF THE GAME
NC State trailed 56-50 at the 12:20 mark with Tracy Smith at the free throw line taking the final shot after being fouled by Mason Plumlee. Lorenzo Brown and Ryan Harrow are in the game at guard with Duke having in Nolan Smith and Tyler Thornton. Brown is lined up on the free throw line to rebound as is Thornton. Smith and Harrow are in the backcourt.
Smith misses the free throw, which would have cut the lead to five, and Brown steps up to rebound. Ryan Kelly grabs the board and passes to Thornton, who is now covered by Harrow, who has come up from the backcourt to guard him. At this time Brown is still in the paint and Thornton passes an long outlet pass to Nolan Smith at midcourt, who is now leading the fastbreak with both of NC State's guards behind him. Duke has a three-on-two fastbreak, and Smith drives in for a layup, pushing the lead back to 58-50.
That basket ignited a 7-0 spurt over the next minute that included a transition three-pointer by Ryan Kelly and a transition layup by Kyle Singler that came from missed, open shots by the Wolfpack.
Duke's lead was back to 13 at 63-50, and the Pack would never cut it below eight again the rest of the way.
State can't give up a 3-on-2 fastbreak off a missed free throw and must pick up attacking guards quicker in transition.
STAT OF THE GAME
0-17. NC State's heralded freshmen hit no shots in the first half, missing all 17 attempts from the field. C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown were both 0-6, and point guard Ryan Harrow was 0-5. Obviously that played a major role in the Wolfpack hitting just 8-of-37 first-half shots (21.6%).
They bounced back in the second half by hitting 8-of-13 shots (62%), but it was probably a little too late. NC State needs the trio, which came into the matchup averaging between 9.5 and 11.3 points per game, to be productive all 40 minutes as they are relied on heavily offensively.
Next up for the Wolfpack is a home game against Miami. The Hurricanes are coming off a tough 55-53 home loss to Florida State where they squandered a lead late in the contest.
Miami is led by starting guards Durand Scott and Malcolm Grant and center Reggie Johnson. Scott is averaging 13.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 3.2 assists while Grant leads the team in scoring (15.3) and assists (3.8). Both guards are shooting over 40% from behind the 3-point line.
Johnson is averaging 11.8 points and 9.6 rebounds while playing just 22.9 minutes a night. The 6-foot-10, 300-pound sophomore is shooting 58% from the field and 71% from the free throw line.
The Hurricanes are 12-6 overall and 1-3 in the ACC. Tip-off for Sunday's game is set for noon.