clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Next Up - Attack The Pack

State is having a tough year in some ways, but Mark Gottfried's teams always improve.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Grayson Allen is ready for Saturday's trip to Raleigh.
Grayson Allen is ready for Saturday's trip to Raleigh.
Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

Next up for Duke is ancient rival North Carolina State, a game which winter weather threatened but ultimately could not delay.

If you're going to shop Amazon please start here and help DBR
Drop us a line at our new address

Duke and State, along with UNC, Wake Forest, Virginia, Clemson and Georgia Tech, were in the Southern Conference prior to the ACC. So was Davidson, which accounts for Duke's lingering, if fading rivalry with the Wildcats.

But back to State.

Duke and State have an ancient and passionate rivalry. This year it's home-and-home, which it should be every year. There's no way this core ACC rivalry should be allowed to fade. Some of the ACC's best games are Duke-State matchups, which goes for football too.

Last year of course State upset an undefeated Duke at home, winning 87-75.

Although Jahlil Okafor shot 8-11, the team overall shot just 36.9%.

A lot has changed since then for both teams.

Duke lost Okafor, Justise Winslow, Quinn Cook and Tyus Jones. Rasheed Sulaimon, who played 22 minutes, is now at Maryland (here's an update on his experiences there, framed around the sexual assault allegations he encountered at Duke).

Amile Jefferson played 22 minutes as well but only took two shots (he did have eight rebounds).

Marshall Plumlee played just five minutes; Grayson Allen got two.

For State, Kyle Washington has transferred, Ralston Turner and Desmond Lee have graduated and Trevor Lacey left early to try his luck with pro ball.

Abdul-Malik Abu had eight points. Beejay Anya had 14, with six rebounds and four blocks.

And this year's star, Cat Martin, was held to four points. In the ACC Tournament rematch, he was held to zero points.

This year, Barber is a significant star and hugely improved. So is Plumlee, who has made himself into a reliable center at least and at times an exceptional post player.

Allen has become a key player for Duke and one of the best in the country. Jefferson was as well before he injured his foot.

And of course State planned to build around transfer guard Terry Henderson, who only played seven minutes in the opener before his own foot injury. He hasn't even scored a point in his State career yet.

Luckily for Henderson and State, he is back in practice and getting ready to play. Probably not in time for Duke but it won't be long.

It's changed somewhat since State left Reynolds Coliseum for the new place. It's a beautiful arena, much better than the arena it was intended to challenge, the Dean Dome, but except for a few games annually, it's not nearly as intense.

Duke is usually one. Weather may be a slight impediment though. It's hard to know how much the crowd will be affected and since it's not on campus, students can't get there as easily.

That's not a huge factor though, or at least not a huge impediment. The game comes down to matchups and both teams have limitations. State has a great shotblocker in Anya but the rest of his game is erratic. Barber has become a really solid guard and is State's best weapon.

Freshman Maverick Rowan has really come on and is a solid offensive threat.

And then there's Abu, a guy Duke will have trouble answering. Jefferson could probably neutralize him but he's out.

In short, yes, it's a winnable game...but it's a losable game too. Duke will need to stay out of trouble and limit State inside. Rowan and Barber can hit outside but can be defended. It's much harder to stop Barber from penetrating.

Duke will also need solid games from Allen, Brandon Ingram, Luke Kennard and Derryck Thornton.

Duke has lost three straight and it could be four. People who are less familiar with the program think that's a big problem but it's not necessarily.

Duke takes times like this as a combination of failure analysis and intensification. Lessons are being applied, work is being put in and each outing is getting more intense. So as we said about Syracuse, we can't predict anything other than great effort. We're pretty sure you'll see that.