Durham, NC – Duke is becoming quite good at this comeback thing.
Seth Curry scored 26 points and Austin Rivers added 16, including the go-ahead three-pointer with 2:26 to play, as No.5 Duke rallied from a double-digit second-half deficit for the second time in as many weeks, downing North Carolina State, 78-73.
Rivers' three gave Duke its first lead of the game and capped a furious rally from a 20-point deficit. The freshman guard was the star of last week's rally, draining the game-winning three at the buzzer to complete the comeback from a 10-point deficit in the final three minutes to down North Carolina, 85-84.
This time, he had some big support from Curry, who attacked the rim in the final 10 minutes and put pressure on a North Carolina State team in serious foul trouble. The Blue Devils (22-4, 9-2 ACC) started 3-of-20 from long range, but made five of their final nine tries.
"That was an amazing win," said Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "They thoroughly outplayed us for about 29 minutes and then we thoroughly outplayed them for 11. They were really good, and we were great in the last 11 minutes."
Lorenzo Brown led North Carolina State (18-8, 7-4) with 19 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Alex Johnson added 13 points and C.J. Leslie posted 12 points, nine rebounds and six blocks. The loss snapped the Wolfpack's three-game winning streak.
"Well, I would say a tough night for us, a tough finish. We have to be better late in the game," said North Carolina State head coach Mark Gottfried.
The Blue Devils made an initial second-half surge, but the Wolfpack fought back, increasing their lead to 51-41 on Brown's free throw with approximately 11 1/2 minutes to go.
Yet, the crowd kept urging a replay of last Wednesday's stunning rally at North Carolina, and the Blue Devils started believing. A swarming defense and attacking offense caused turnovers and put the Wolfpack in foul trouble, aiding nine straight points capped by Curry's layup.
It put a shadow of doubt in the Wolfpack's mind, and Duke kept chipping away from the foul line and with dribble penetration. Rivers' layup cut the deficit to 69-62 with just under 5 1/2 minutes to go, then Curry drained a mid-range jumper and a layup to bring Duke within 69-66, the closest it had been since the game's first basket.
Leslie stabilized things for the time being with a follow-up slam, but Curry countered with a trey, and after a Scott Wood miss, Rivers gave Duke its first lead of the game, 72-71, with 2:26 to go.
Brown missed a jumper on the other end, and Richard Howell was sent to the showers with his fifth foul, allowing Rivers to drain a pair of free throws. Another North Carolina State possession ended without points, and Ryan Kelly drained two more free throws for a 76-71 lead with about one minute to go.
Wood was fouled shooting a trey on the next possession and made 2-of-3, and North Carolina State had one more chance after Curry missed a jumper. Duke, however, didn't allow Wood to catch the ball, forcing Brown to shoot a difficult three that barely drew iron.
Curry corralled the rebound, was fouled and made both free throws to seal the comeback.
The Wolfpack came out with a confidence and precision that resulted in a quick surge off the tip. Johnson and Brown drained back-to-back treys for an 8-0 edge, and the margin grew to 16-4 on another Johnson triple just over eight minutes in.
Wood, North Carolina State's best long-range shooter, finally got on the scoreboard nearly 13 minutes in with a three-pointer for a 31-14 lead and his free throws made the score 44-25 with just under two minutes to go.
Duke scored the next six, but DeShawn Painter's slam with 15 ticks to go capped the first-half scoring and gave the Wolfpack a 46-30 lead.
Wood, who missed three free throws all season entering Thursday, missed three in 10 attempts. He scored 10 points in defeat...North Carolina has not won at Cameron Indoor Stadium since 1995...The Wolfpack committed 15 turnovers...Andre Dawkins finished with nine points for Duke.