Raleigh, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - The NC State Wolfpack continue their run through an ACC gauntlet, as they play host the second-ranked Duke Blue Devils on Sunday afternoon at PNC Arena.
Mark Gottfried's Wolfpack are a solid 11-5 on the season and 2-1 in conference play. However, NC State is coming off a 61-51 setback at No. 3 Virginia last Wednesday, and following this game against the Blue Devils, will play host to the North Carolina Tar Heels on Jan. 14.
Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils are one of just three undefeated teams left in the country (Kentucky and Virginia are the others). Duke is 14-0 overall, 2-0 in conference play and opened the season with 13 straight double-digit victories. The team faced its toughest challenge to date on the road at Wake Forest on Wednesday, but was able to remain unbeaten with a 73-65 decision. Already the all-time winningest coach in Division I history (997 career victories), Coach K is closing in on 1,000 for his career.
There is plenty of history between these two local rivals. Duke owns a 142-98 series advantage and has won nine of the last 11 meetings with NC State. With this being the 241st all-time meeting, this series is the second-most played rivalry in ACC history.
The Blue Devils needed to play nearly flawless basketball down the stretch against Wake Forest and did just that, going 5-of-5 from the floor and 7-of-8 from the free-throw line over the last five minutes to earn the win over the Demon Deacons and remain undefeated. Freshman Justise Winslow led the way with a career-high 20 points. Fellow freshman Jahlil Okafor recorded a double- double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, while Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon tacked on 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Duke has the ability to win games at either end of the floor. The team has shown very few weaknesses thus far, averaging a stout 84.4 ppg on .518 shooting, while holding foes to just 60,9 ppg, while boasting of a +8.3 rebounding margin and a +2.7 turnover margin. Okafor came in as the nation's top recruit and the 7-footer hasn't disappointed, leading the nation in field- goal percentage (.681), while pacing the team in both scoring (18.9 ppg) and rebounding (8.9 rpg). Cook is the team's veteran, as the senior guard posted 14.4 ppg. Freshmen like Winslow 12.7 ppg), and Tyus Jones (10.0 ppg, 5.2 apg) add to the team's youth movement.
NC State fell victim to Virginia's suffocating defensive play, as the Wolfpack managed just 51 points on a less-than-stellar .397 shooting in Charlottesville this past week. Ralston Turner led the team in defeat with 14 points. Kyle Washington recorded a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, but leading scorer Trevor Lacey was just 3-of-11 from the floor and finished with just nine points.
A transfer from Alabama, Lacey has fit right in as NC State's top performer, trying to fill the void left by ACC Player of the Year T.J. Warren's departure. Lacey is shooting just under 50 percent from the floor and leads the team in scoring at 16.7 ppg. Turner is a nice second option at the offensive end at 13.1 ppg, while Anthony Barber (11.8 ppg) rounds out the team's top scoring threats. Averaging a modest 71.4 ppg this year, tight defensive play has been a huge asset. NC State is currently limiting foes to just 62.4 ppg and holding them under 40 percent accuracy from the floor (.385).