NC State and Duke Square Off In Top 20 Showdown
Jan. 11, 2013
Game Time: Noon
No. 1 Duke (15-0, 2-0 ACC) vs. No. 20 NC State (13-2, 2-0 ACC)
SERIES RECORD: Duke leads 138-97
LAST MEETING: Duke, 78-73 (2/16/12)
TELEVISION: ESPN Watch
PxP: Dan Shulman Color: Dick Vitale Sideline: Jeannine Edwards Watch
RADIO: NC State Radio Network Listen
PxP: Gary Hahn Color: Tony Haynes
PxP: Tom McCarthy Color: Bill Frieder
RALEIGH, N.C. - When top-ranked Duke visits No. 20 NC State on Saturday at noon at sold-out PNC Arena, it will be the 33rd time in Wolfpack basketball history it has faced a team ranked No. 1 in the nation.
It's not an uncommon occurrence for any ACC school, since a total of 25 of those games were against conference foes Duke, North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia. But the Wolfpack (13-2 overall, 2-0 ACC) does own the distinction of being one of 18 teams nationally that have at least five wins over a top-ranked team, with the most recent being against Duke on Feb. 15, 2004, at PNC Arena.
Senior Julius Hodge led the Pack that night, scoring 14 of his 18 points in the second half, including a pair of free throws with seven seconds remaining to seal the 78-74 victory.
That's the Pack's only win in 10 tries against a No. 1 ranked Duke team. State's other wins over top ranked teams were in the 54-53 win in the 1983 NCAA championship game over Houston in Albuquerque, N.M.; a Feb. 23, 1986, win over North Carolina in Reynolds Coliseum; a Jan. 4, 1995, win over North Carolina in Reynolds and a Feb. 21, 1998, win over North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Second-year NC State coach Mark Gottfried says he's not caught up in the hype that will surround his No. 20 team's visit from the top-ranked Blue Devils. The Wolfpack was a preseason top 10 pick and the media's preseason favorite to win the ACC. Gottfried's team, which had four returning starters from last season, plus three McDonald All-American freshmen, dropped a pair of early-season games to Oklahoma State in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off and at Michigan in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Since then, however, Gottfried and his well-balanced team have reeled off nine straight victories, relying on different leaders most nights. The Wolfpack is one of just two teams nationally that have six different players contributing double-figure scoring.
Duke is the only other ACC team with at least five different double-figure scorers.
Gottfried doesn't consider this match with the Blue Devils an early-season showdown as much as he knows it is one of 18 difficult games his team will play against ACC opponents.
"I don't get caught up too much in all the things surrounding the game," the coach said. "For us, we are in that mode now where every game is going to be tough. You go play. The other stuff around the game, I don't get caught up in all that.
"The most important thing is for us to be ready to play, play hard and play as well as we can play."
That's not to say Gottfried and his team aren't fired up to face the Blue Devils, which took a 78-73 victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium in the closing minutes of the only game between the old rivals last season.
"I think like most games, our guys are excited to play," Gottfried said. "I am sure their team is going to be excited to play as well. It should be a fun day. I think we have a great opportunity and a great challenge at the same time to play a really good basketball team.
"For us to become the type of program we want to be, you have to step up and take advantage of your opportunities. This is one of them."
Junior C.J. Leslie leads the Pack in scoring with 15.6 points per game, but the preseason ACC player of the year is hardly a one-man show. Senior Scott Wood leads the ACC in 3-pointers per game, junior Lorenzo Brown leads the league in assists and is second in steals, senior Richard Howell is among the ACC leaders in rebounds and freshman T.J. Warren ranks in the top 10 nationally in field goal percentage.
The Wolfpack, which leads the nation in field goal percentage as a team, likes to get the ball inside and likes to push the ball down the court in transition, which accounts for its high shooting percentage.
That won't change against the defensive-minded Blue Devils, who will be playing their first game since losing senior forward Ryan Kelly to a foot injury.
"I don't think we are going change who we are or what we are going to do," Gottfried said. "That's who our team is. We are going to play to our strengths."
Saturday's game is the third announced sellout of the season for the Wolfpack, which also had a full house in the season opener against Miami of Ohio and the Reynolds Coliseum game against Cleveland State. Two of the remaining six home games are sold out, North Carolina and Clemson, with less than a thousand seats remaining for the other four home games.
The Pack travels to Maryland on Wednesday and returns home on Sunday, Feb. 20, to host Clemson at 6 p.m. on ESPNU.