Observations From The Game: Duke

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Here are some thoughts and observations from NC State's 88-78 loss to Duke.

NC State dropped to 11-9 overall and 1-6 in the ACC with a 88-78 loss to No. 20 Duke at PNC Arena Saturday. The Wolfpack led by 10 points in the first half and took a seven-point advantage into intermission. The Blue Devils shot a blistering 70.8 percent from the floor in the second half and pulled away to end a three-game losing streak.

With the victory, Duke won in Raleigh for the first time since 2011.

NC State Highlights
As the Wolfpack jumped out in front in the first half it became clear that when NC State has a balanced attack it can hang with anyone. Cat Barber led the Pack with 14 points while State also got significant contributions from the Martin twins (Cody with 11 points and Caleb with 6).

* NC State actually played well offensively for most of the game. The Wolfpack had five players finish in double figures scoring, ed by Barber’s 19 points, and finished 51.7 percent (31-for-60) from the floor.

* A salute is in order for the fans that attended the game. While there is no shame for those who could not make it or felt it was prudent to stay at home as North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory suggested, the amount of fans that showed up was remarkable. 

The Red Terror service provided by NC State transportation brought a large number of students despite the number of pickup spots being limited. The first floor and upstairs both were mostly filled and it was a great representation for NC State Athletics on national television. The fans were there and they were loud. NC State head coach Mark Gottfried was effusive in his praise for Wolfpack Nation after the game.

NC State Lowlights
Lennard Freeman finished with a career-best six assists and made some deft passes inside in both halves Saturday. He played a decent game overall, also finishing with seven rebounds off the bench.

The problem was Freeman never looked for his shot, or even upwards at the rim, the entire game. The junior finished 1-for-3 from the floor despite finding the ball within 10 feet of the goal unguarded on several occasions. 

If he was uncomfortable take the shot initially after receiving the ball in the soft spot of the Blue Devil zone, there was opportunities to take a dribble or two and drive to the basket. Not only would it have led to easy attempts but it potentially could have gotten Duke’s lone big man Marshall Plumlee in foul trouble.

As dynamic as Allen and Ingram were, it was Plumlee that was irreplaceable.

* Duke hit 17-of-24 shots in the second half, including seven-of-11 from three-point range. It negated what was a terrific offensive performance for NC State. The 78 points the Wolfpack finished with should have been enough but the Blue Devils scored 52 after intermission. 

Allen and Ingram had 12 and 15 of their points in the second half, so they were actually consistent for the entire game. Matt Jones scores all of his eight points after the break and each basket seemed to come as the Wolfpack was closing back into the contest. Plumlee had seven of his 10 points after intermission as NC State started to pull off of the center in an attempt to trap and create turnovers late. 

Stat of the Game
NC State had a chance to pick up its 100th win all-time in 243 contests versus Duke on Saturday. Instead the Wolfpack was saddled with its 1,000th loss in program history. State is now 1,658-1,000 overall since the basketball program began in the 1910-11 season.

“Brandon Ingram and Grayson Allen, we recruited both of them, and they were just terrific today. I’ve got to give those two guys credit. I think they’re both going to have great futures. We’ve played against Ben Simmons this year from LSU, and we’ve played against Brandon Ingram, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see his name called first this year. He’s that good. And he was good today, especially in the second half.” -- NC State head coach Mark Gottfried

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