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Duke 88 NC State 78

Duke won a gritty game in Raleigh by outperforming the Pack in the second half.

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Jan 23, 2016; Raleigh, NC, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack guard Anthony 'Cat' Barber (12) dribbles in front of Duke Blue Devils guard Derryck Thornton (12) during the first half at PNC Arena.
Jan 23, 2016; Raleigh, NC, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack guard Anthony 'Cat' Barber (12) dribbles in front of Duke Blue Devils guard Derryck Thornton (12) during the first half at PNC Arena.
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

On a day when Gov. Pat McCrory urged fans to stay home due to the wiinter weather which blanketed Raleigh in ice Friday and Saturday, fans still came out to see Duke and State play a game Duke won, 88-78, behind strong performances by Grayson Allen and Brandon Ingram, who scored 28 and 25 respectively.

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In the first half though it wasn't a sure thing at all as State played beautiful offensive basketball.

Say this for Mark Gottfried: he inherited the UCLA offense and it's in good hands.

State shot very well in the first half but that was partly due to what Duke gave up and partly due to brilliant ball movement by the Pack.

On one particularly scintillating play, the ball moved around the perimeter like a water bug, just gliding from one player to the next until it found an open shooter.

You just won't find many offensive possessions which are prettier than that one was, and in the first half, Duke seemed ready to buckle before State's brilliant performance as the Pack took a 46-33 lead into halftime.

State's had some tough breaks this season, beginning with the unexpected loss of Trevor Lacey who wanted to get on with his pro career and the injury to Terry Henderson, who might have replaced him.

Yet there the Pack was, with all its limitations, playing beautiful basketball. You expect Cat Barber to play well at this point, and Abdul-Malik Abu has become a very solid inside player for State. And Maverick Rowan has established himself as a promising shooting guard.

We didn't expect to see the Martin twins play as well as they did though and in particular Caleb Martin got hot early, hitting some ridiculous stuff.

Between them, the Martins racked up 27 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists. They really helped put State in position to win.

But no one could stop Allen and Ingram as Duke put together a 14-0 run in the second half to pull back in front. With 9:24 left, Duke had gone from a 10 point deficit in the first half to a 10 point lead at 66-56.

Duke's dynamic duo combined to shoot 21-33, or 63.6%.

Duke shot 54% for the game and 71% in the second half.

Down the stretch, State's confidence seemed to wilt as Duke got stronger. Allen was really aggressive as was Ingram, who drove a lot more than he has in recent games (although driving against Syracuse's zone is really difficult).

Duke got solid games from Luke Kennard, Marshall Plumlee and Matt Jones as well.  Jones, who has been in a bit of a slump lately, hit two threes in Duke's run to help the Blue Devils pull away.

Plumlee finished with 10 points and eight rebounds and an important late block to keep State from getting too close. Kennard finished with 12 but shot just 4-12.

However, he is increasingly showing that he's a sneaky presence inside. He can get past guys and get shots off close to the basket. When his outside shot stabilizes, he's going to be very dangerous.

Derryck Thornton played for 20 minutes but made several mistakes which might have been critical in a different game. At one point Plumlee, being the good captain, let him know he needed to stop freelancing.

On the positive side though, especially early in the game, his defense was at times sensational.

It was not a perfect game by Duke, but when it came down to winning time, the Blue Devils made the plays and pulled away from the Pack. And in the final analysis, that's the thing: Duke needed a win, and Duke got one. Now on to Miami.