Wolfpack Falls to Blue Devils, 92-78
Jan. 19, 2011
RALEIGH, N.C. – NC State coach Sidney Lowe was proud of the effort his team showed throughout Wednesday night’s game against defending national champion Duke. But he couldn’t help his team put the ball through the basket in the first half of the 92-78 loss at the RBC Center.
The cold-shooting Wolfpack, which made just 21.6 percent of its shots in the opening period, was unable to climb out of the hole it dug early in the contest, when freshmen C.J. Leslie, Lorenzo Brown and Ryan Harrow found themselves in position to score, but were unable to convert.
The trio combined to miss all 17 of their first-half shots against the Blue Devils (17-1 overall, 4-1 ACC). But they were not alone, as the Pack (11-7, 1-3) made just eight of 37 shots before halftime.
“We had some good looks early,” Lowe said. “We just didn’t make shots. We had layups and we missed them. They were contested, obviously, but we had our opportunities and we needed to convert them.”
Seven of Duke’s eight blocked shots in the game were in the first half, contributing to the Wolfpack’s inability to score. Blue Devil sophomore Mason Plumblee had six in the contest. Even with a handful of young players in the low post, Duke owned the boards, in notching a 44-34 rebounding advantage.
“That’s the best we’ve rebounded the ball all year long,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “All nine guys contributed.”
The second half – when Lowe revamped his starting lineup – was a completely different story, as the Wolfpack jumped back into the game by scoring nine consecutive points after Duke scored the opening basket of the half.
With Harrow a the point, sophomore Scott Wood at shooting guard, Leslie at the wing and sophomore Richard Howell and senior Tracy Smith in the post, the Wolfpack played an up-tempo offense and a pressing defense that eventually cut Duke’s lead to just five points. The lineup helped the Wolfpack score 50 second-half points for the fourth time in its last five games.
Wood’s 3-pointer with 13:10 remaining in the game made the score 54-49, the narrowest margin since midway through the first half.
But the Blue Devils scored on seven of its next eight possessions to build their lead back to 70-55. The Wolfpack continued to push behind the shooting of Wood and Harrow, who made a 3-pointer and a layup to keep the lead within nine.
Wood made another 3-pointer with 5:20 remaining that cut the lead to 74-66, but that was as close as the Pack (11-7, 1-3) got the rest of the way.
Five Wolfpack players scored in double-digits in the game, led by senior Tracy Smith’s 19 points and nine rebounds. Wood and Harrow added 15 apiece, while Leslie had 13 and Howell added 10. After a cold first half, the Wolfpack made 17 of its 31 field goal attempts (54.8 percent) in the second half.
“Duke’s a tough team,” Lowe said. “They spread you out and make tough shots and they made some key tip-ins. They’re very active.
“Overall, I’m proud of the effort we got from a young team, but we still have to do a little better job defensively and get stops.”
Duke, which shot 50.7 percent from the field for the game, was led by Nolan Smith’s 22 points and Kyle Singler’s 18 and nine rebounds.
Lowe saw a few glimmers of hope, despite his team’s poor shooting performance in the early part of the contest. The Pack had just nine turnovers in the game and matched Duke’s 18 offensive rebounds. It even forced the Blue Devils, in some early foul trouble, to play a zone defense, something Krzyzewski hates.
The Wolfpack returns to action Sunday at noon against ACC-foe Miami at the RBC Center.
• By Tim Peeler, email@example.com.