After historic rally, No. 2 Duke resets for NC State
Duke created another notable moment in its last game with an historic comeback.
The second-ranked Blue Devils take on a North Carolina State team working on its own bounceback when the teams meet for the only scheduled time this season Saturday in Durham, N.C.
Duke will have a difficult time topping the magnitude of a rally from a 23-point hole in less than 10 minutes to overcome host Louisville on Tuesday night.
But perhaps the Blue Devils learned something about playing teams that are anxious to prove a point.
"These kids (on our team) can already feel like they've made a mark," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "And so you're playing against somebody that can be hungrier than you. So that's a lesson for our guys."
Duke (22-2, 10-1 ACC) holds first place in the league and is riding an eight-game winning streak.
The comeback against Louisville marked Duke's second-largest rally to win in school history and the biggest comeback in Krzyzewski's 39 seasons.
NC State (18-7, 6-6) is building momentum after notching its first back-to-back victories since the turn of the new year.
NC State shot 63.6 percent from the field in the second half of Wednesday night's 73-58 victory over visiting Syracuse. That was in stark contrast to the offensive display in the team's previous home game, when it shot 16.7 percent for the game and scored only 24 points in a loss to Virginia Tech.
"I just think we're getting back to our form," Wolfpack senior guard Torin Dorn said.
The win over Syracuse was NC State's first conference victory by a double-digit margin. The team's previous five ACC wins came by a combined 20 points.
Sophomore guard Braxton Beverly matched his career high with 21 points. Beverly is 13-for-22 from 3-point range in three games since going 0-for-9 from long range against Virginia Tech.
"That's the guy I believe in," NC State coach Kevin Keatts said. "He could come out and go 0 of 20, and I know the next time he comes, he's going to play. I've never questioned his ability to make shots."
Duke could have something different in store at the defensive end.
The Blue Devils discovered an effective 2-2-1 zone press to help turn the tide in Louisville. NC State uses a full-court press as one of its primary defensive strategies, so there could be some full end-to-end action on Saturday.
"The 2-2-1 may be added to what we're doing," Krzyzewski said. "We can still learn a lot. Maybe the sense of urgency made the defense work."
NC State's defense will have to contend with the ACC's leading scorers, both freshman forwards for Duke. RJ Barrett averages 22.7 points per game, and Zion Williamson is at 22.0 per game.
NC State didn't visit Duke last season. In the most-recent trip to Durham in 2017, the Wolfpack pulled off a stunning upset behind the play of then-freshman guard Dennis Smith Jr.
From that NC State team, only Dorn and junior guard Markell Johnson are still with the Wolfpack.
NC State could be in a bind with its depth. Only eight players were in uniform for the Syracuse game, with key reserve Eric Lockett out for what was deemed a personal matter, and backup point guard Blake Harris missing the game because of illness.
More clarity on Lockett's situation came Thursday, when he was arrested and charged with assaulting a female, stemming from an alleged altercation on Tuesday. The team has suspended Lockett indefinitely.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 14, 2019