Rushed Reactions: #2 Duke 77, N.C. State 53

Posted by Brad Jenkins on March 12th, 2015

rushedreactions

ACC Microsite writers Matt Patton and Brad Jenkins will be reporting live from Greensboro at the 2015 ACC Tournament throughout the week.

Three Key Takeaways.

Marshall Plumlee provided a big lift off the bench in Duke's win.  (Photo by Sara D. Davis, theACC.com)

Marshall Plumlee provided a big lift off the bench in Duke’s win. (Photo by Sara D. Davis, theACC.com)

  1. Duke came to Greensboro with a purpose. The Blue Devils haven’t won the ACC Tournament since 2011, a fairly long drought by Mike Krzyzewski’s standards. Based on the Blue Devils’ first game of this year’s tournament, though, it looks like they are focused on ending that streak. N.C. State was expected to be a tough matchup since the Wolfpack came in as a hot team that had beaten Duke handily in their only prior meeting. But that was a long time ago, and Duke is obviously a better team than it was back in early January. Even Duke’s weakness has been much improved lately, as the Devils have held four out of their last six opponent under 0.97 points per possession. Krzyzewski used a three-quarter court zone press that fell into a matchup zone against the Wolfpack to slow down and confuse their potent guards.
  2. N.C. State can play with anybody, just not always. The Wolfpack found out the hard way that you have to be ready from the tip against elite teams or you can get buried early. They have wins this year over Duke, Louisville, and North Carolina — two of those coming on the road — and they came very close to beating Virginia and Notre Dame. That means that N.C. State has either beaten or almost beaten all five of the ACC’s heavyweights this year. Combine that kind of tough-game performance with their explosive perimeter and you have a team that could cause problems in the NCAA Tournament. They won’t last long at the Dance, however, if they start games as passively as this one.
  3. Duke’s bench is really playing wellMuch has been made about Duke’s relative lack of depth with only eight scholarship players, but while the quantity isn’t high, the quality certainly is. Freshman Grayson Allen in particular has given the team a huge boost lately. Allen had 11 points, three boards, three assists, two blocks and multiple floor burns in 21 minutes of action tonight. Marshall Plumlee has also improved to the point that Duke doesn’t suffer a dramatic dropoff when he replaces Jahlil Okafor on the floor. Plumlee successfully converted all six of his shot attempts against N.C. State and blocked three shots in 21 minutes.

Star of the Game. Justise Winslow, Duke. The freshman forward has shown a knack for exploding early in big games and he did so again on Thursday. In the decisive first half, Winslow scored 11 points on 3-of-4 shooting, made all four of his free throws, and recorded three steals. Nine of his points came in the first 6:04 of the game, when Duke jumped out to a big early lead.

Quotable.

  • “I thought our guys were unbelievably ready. They played outstanding defense” – Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, praising his team’s effort.
  • “I’m not on the committee, but I think we’ve certainly earned the right to be in the Tournament.” –  N.C. State’s Mark Gottfried, on the Wolfpack’s NCAA Tournament credentials.
  • “Grayson [Allen] has been coming on like crazy” – Krzyzewski, on Allen’s recent play.

Sights and Sounds. N.C. State’s slow start kept the crowd from being a factor in the game. Normally in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals, an underdog can earn the support of the neutral fans in the building. Duke was able to avoid facing that possibility by jumping all over the Wolfpack early.

What’s Next?
  • Duke will play Notre Dame in the semifinals (Friday – 9:30 PM ET). The Blue Devils may need to keep winning games this weekend to hold on to a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
  • N.C. State is virtually assured of an NCAA Tourney bid, but it must wonder if tonight’s performance will cost them a seed line.
Brad Jenkins (284 Posts)


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