Nolan Smith scored 22 points to help No. 4 Duke beat North Carolina State 92-78 on Wednesday night, avenging last season's surprising road loss to the Wolfpack.
Kyle Singler added 18 points for the Blue Devils (17-1, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who dominated early to lead by 14 at halftime then turned away a second-half comeback to extend their recent dominance in the series. Duke has won 29 of 34 meetings with N.C. State (11-7, 1-3) since 1995 and improved to 5-2 against Sidney Lowe's Wolfpack.
N.C. State earned a surprisingly easy 88-74 win against the Blue Devils last season in which Tracy Smith scored 23 points and the Wolfpack shot 58 percent. The Blue Devils held the Wolfpack to 22 percent shooting in the first half to build a double-digit lead.
Then, after N.C. State closed within five, Smith led a 7-0 spurt that took back control.
Duke shot 51 percent for the game and had plenty of balance with Miles Plumlee and Ryan Kelly each finishing with 11 points and eight rebounds to back up the Blue Devils' senior stars.
In addition, Mason Plumlee helped lead a defense that slowed Smith and the Wolfpack's talented front line early. He had five of his six blocks in the first half and finished with 10 rebounds, part of the Blue Devils' 44-34 edge on the glass.
Smith scored 19 points to lead N.C. State, though he didn't have the same ease getting those points inside that he did last season. Freshman point guard Ryan Harrow — who played almost the entire game over starter Javi Gonzalez — finished with 15 points, while Scott Wood also had 15.
Duke held N.C. State to 8-for-37 shooting in the first half to build a 42-28 lead. But N.C. State roared back to start the second half, with Smith and his frontcourtmates finally finding room to operate in the paint.
N.C. State opened with a 9-2 spurt to close the gap, then got two contested catch-and-shoot 3s from Wood to get as close as 54-49 with about 13 minutes left.
But after the Wolfpack expended all that energy to climb back in the game, the Blue Devils calmly responded with a spurt that erased all that work. First Smith scored on a transition layup when the Wolfpack failed to get back on defense after a missed free throw to make it 58-50.
Smith then found Kelly alone in the far right corner for a crushing 3-pointer, then led the break after an N.C. State miss and found Singler sprinting in on the right side for a layup that pushed Duke's lead to 63-50 with 11:05 to play.
The Wolfpack got no closer than eight points after that despite shooting 55 percent after halftime.
(This version CORRECTS No. 4 Duke 92, N.C. State 78. Corrects scoring errors from school for Mason Plumlee, Miles Plumlee, Ryan Kelly.)