No. 20 Pack Topples Top-Ranked Duke, 84-76
Jan. 12, 2013
RALEIGH, N.C. - No. 20 NC State, the preseason favorite to win the ACC, ended Duke's unbeaten start to the season, toppling the top-ranked Blue Devils 84-76 at PNC Arena Saturday afternoon.
Junior C.J. Leslie, the league's preseason player of the year, scored a game-high 25 points to lead all scorers, but senior Richard Howell's strong work in the paint helped his team overcome Duke's early-game advantage on the boards.
Howell finished with 16 points and 18 rebounds, his ninth double-double of the season and the 22nd of his career. Howell had 14 rebounds in the second half alone.
"I challenged our team in the huddle in the second half," said second-year head coach Mark Gottfried. "I asked them if anyone else was going to get a rebound. Rich looked up at me and said, `Don't worry, Coach, I'll get them all.'
"Defensively and on the boards, he was off the charts. That was a grown man's game, playing against good interior people."
Howell certainly earned the respect of Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski: "He's just a beast."
"Give NC State all the credit, I thought they played a heck of a game and I thought we fought like crazy to give ourselves a chance to win," Krzyzewski said. "State played outstanding basketball."
Brown also matched his career high by dishing out all 13 of the Wolfpack's assists in the game, his most since getting that same total last season against Syracuse. It was his fifth double-digit assist total of the season and his third double-double this year.
"Brown is as good as there is in the country in transition," Krzyzewski said. "He's a superb guard. His play in the last eight minutes of the first half, and their transition offense, is what won the game for them."
The Pack (14-2 overall, 3-0 ACC) shot better than 50 percent again from the field, while holding Duke to just 44.8 percent from the field.
The Wolfpack has now won 10 straight games, the program's longest winning streak since 1988-89. That's also the last time NC State was 3-0 to start the ACC season.
The game was still close midway through the second half, as Duke's Seth Curry hit a 3-pointer to pull his team within one point. But Leslie and Howell took over, with Leslie stepping back for a 17-foot jumper and then scoring on the inside for four straight points.
The Pack built its lead up to 10 points with just under eight minutes to play when freshman Rodney Purvis converted a three-point play.
State finished strong down the stretch, to the delight of the season's third sellout crowd and a national television audience.
"We drew some energy off our crowd, no question about it," Gottfried said. "Our guys played really hard - they knew it was a big deal. Our ability to finish defensive possessions with rebounds in the second half helped us.
"The best offense we could run was getting on the boards and scoring. We finished it with defensive rebounding."
Early in the game, the Blue Devils owned a 14-4 rebounding advantage against the Wolfpack, but it ended with a narrow 35-34 advantage by the end of the game, with Howell doing much of the work to turn the tables.
The Pack also performed well at the free-throw line, especially down the stretch. State was not only 20-for-23 at the line, it also doubled Duke's points, 20-10, on foul shots.
"To win close games, you have to hit foul shots, especially with the lead," Gottfried said. "We had to be able to make stops at key times, then make some foul shots and continue to execute. Our guys did a good job with that. We are able to slow down, take a deep breath and execute.
"Our togetherness and the way our players are complementing each other is very encouraging."
The win is the Wolfpack's sixth all time over a top-ranked team in the nation. It's last win over a No. 1 also came against Duke at PNC Arena, when Julius Hodge led the Wolfpack to a 78-74 win on Feb. 15, 2004, by scoring 14 of his 18 points in the second half, including a pair of free throws with seven seconds to play.
In the first half, Duke grabbed an early advantage on the boards, outrebounding the Pack 15-6 in the opening six minutes.
During that time, the nation's top shooting team was a little cold from the field, shooting just 47 percent against the Blue Devil defense. But at one of the official timeouts, Gottfried implored his team to concentrate more on getting rebounds than starting the fast break, and Howell led the Pack's efforts on the boards the rest of the way.
The Wolfpack hits the road to face Maryland on Wednesday at College Park's Comcast Center, before returning home against next Sunday at n6 p.m to face Clemson in a game that is already sold out.