Seeking the 48th 20-win season in school history, the fourth-ranked Duke Blue Devils play host to the NC State Wolfpack in Atlantic Coast Conference action at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Thursday.
Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils are an impressive 19-2 on the season and have won three straight games since a loss on the road at league-leading Miami- Florida. Duke is two and a half games behind the Hurricanes (9-0) in the league standings, moving to 6-2 in league play with last weekend's 79-60 romp over Florida State in Tallahassee. Duke is a perfect 11-0 in Durham this season and has won 20 or more games in 16 straight seasons.
Mark Gottfried's Wolfpack were considered the team to beat in the ACC this season and certainly have shown flashes of that dominant play, including and 84-76 win over this same Duke club back on Jan. 12. However, since that victory NC State has dropped four of its last six games, including two straight heading into this contest. The Wolfpack fell to 5-4 in league play with last weekend's heart-breaking 79-78 loss at home to Miami.
Duke holds a 138-98 advantage in its series with NC State. The Blue Devils have won 14 straight against the Wolfpack in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
NC State poses a problem for any adversary due to the team's explosive play and overall scoring depth. The Wolfpack are one of the top shooting teams in the nation at a healthy 50.4 percent clip, ranking fifth nationally. That has led to a healthy 78.5 ppg (11th nationally). Five players come into this game averaging double figures, led by C.J. Leslie's 15.7 ppg. Richard Howell has been a beast in the paint, averaging a double-double with 12.8 points and 10.9 rebounds per game. The team also boasts of a real All-American candidate at the point in Lorenzo Brown (12.7 ppg, 6.9 apg). T.J. Warren (11.9 ppg) is a dangerous asset off the bench, while Scott Wood (11.5 ppg - 56 3-pointers) is the team's resident sniper.
The Wolfpack suffered their first home loss of the season when Miami's Reggie Johnson tipped in a ball with under a second to play to provide the Hurricanes with a one-point win. Leslie posted 18 points and 12 rebounds in the loss. Howell and Tyler Lewis finished with 15 points each, while Rodney Purvis chipped in with 13.
The Blue Devils shot a scorching 11-of-18 from behind the arc, distancing themselves from the Seminoles and earning a 19-point win over FSU. Seth Curry netted 21 points for the second straight game, finishing with five 3-pointers. Quinn Cook poured in 18 points and dished out six assists. Rasheed Sulaimon and Amile Jefferson finished with 14 and 11 points, respectively. All-American candidate Mason Plumlee though, was held in check, posting just eight points and five rebounds in the win.
Plumlee has been much more explosive on the season. He has shot .604 from the floor, ranking sixth nationally in field-goal percentage, while leading the team with 17.6 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. Curry is the perfect complement with his long-range acumen. The senior guard is averaging 16.3 ppg and is shooting .432 from behind the arc (51-of-118). Sulaimon (11.8 ppg) and Cook (11.5 ppg) have picked up the pace at the offensive end with the absence of Ryan Kelly (13.4 ppg), who is still sidelined with a foot injury.