DeShawn Painter threw the ball off Ryan Harrow's shoulder and out of bounds off a made Duke basket, all part of an embarrassing loss to the Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor on Saturday night. The Pack fell 76-52, its worst ACC loss of the season.
"I'm not gonna say its rock bottom but its not good," head coach Sidney Lowe said. "I'm very disappointed in our starts the last four games – very disappointed."
The Pack played the game without freshman CJ Leslie, who was suspended one game by the coaching staff for a violation of team rules. Leslie, the gem of the Pack's highly-rated recruiting class, has struggled since the start of ACC play.
"I made [the decision to suspend CJ Leslie] yesterday," Lowe said. "We had a team meeting and they knew about it."
Both teams shot poorly from the field, as the Devils hit 65 percent in the second half but just 19 percent in the second half to finish at 42 percent for the game compared to 40 percent for the Pack. But the Devils were 7-of-14 from behind the arc while the Pack made just 1-of-10 from 3-point range. The Devils won thanks to out-rebounded the Pack and turning the ball over just nine times compared to 16 turnovers for the Pack.
"We took a couple of questionable shots, then we turned the ball over," Lowe said. "And they made shots – they made a lot of shots in the first half."
Richard Howell led the way for the visitors, hitting 9-of-11 field goals on his way to an 18-point performance. Two other players scored in double figures for the Pack, as Lorenzo Brown scored 15 points to go with nine rebounds and six assists and Painter added 10 points in the loss.
"I was encouraged by our young guys," Lowe said. "We are a young team and I was very encouraged by our effort in the second half."
At the outset of the game the Pack actually managed to keep pace, trailing by just two points at the first media timeout. But the Devils came back from that timeout and rolled off a 19-2 run which essentially ended the game with 30 minutes left to play. The Pack was out-hustled, out-rebounded and out-worked for the rest of the half on its way to a 53-24 halftime deficit.
The Devils shot 65 percent from the floor in the first half including 6-of-10 from behind the arc while the Pack managed just 44 percent and didn't hit a 3-point on its three attempts. The Pack also had 12 turnovers in the half compared to just four for the Devils.
"The first half really put us in a hole," Howell said. "For the last four games we've been losing games in the first half."
Coming out of the locker room, the Pack managed to put together a 6-0 run thanks to holding the Devils scoreless for the first four minutes of the half. The Devils shot a paltry 19 percent in the half but it made little difference as Duke played enough defense and got to free throw line enough to keep the Pack from ever getting within 20 points.
The Pack will now have a week off before traveling to Wake Forest. The Deacons lost to the Pack at the RBC Center in early January, one of just two ACC wins for the Pack this year.