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NC State Pulls The Upset, Beats Duke 96-85

The Wolfpack just played better.

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NCAA Basketball: Duke at North Carolina State
 Jan 6, 2018; Raleigh, NC, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack guard Lavar Batts Jr. (3) drives to the basket as Duke Blue Devils guard Alex O’Connell (15) defends during the first half at PNC Arena.
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

State beat Duke in Raleigh Saturday night, 96-85.

There’s no question the better team won. State was just far superior to Duke in this one and absolutely deserved the win.

State was more aggressive, more composed and mentally tougher.

You don’t have to look too far to see evidence. Trevon Duval had eight turnovers - half of Duke’s 16. Marvin Bagley had five.

Near the end of the game, down seven, Javin DeLaurier fouled State’s Torin Dorn on a three point shot - which went in. He also hit the free throw.

Gary Trent also fouled a three point shooter - near the end of the shot clock.

For some reason, Grayson Allen didn't really seem to be there, hitting just 3-9 for eight points. We should remind you that Duke traditionally doesn’t discuss injuries or illness so if Allen was ailing they didn’t tell us and we won’t know for a while.

What about Duke’s great strength this year, offensive rebounding?

State beat Duke on the boards too. The Wolfpack had 14 offensive rebounds to Duke’s 12 and matched the Devils 20-20 on the defensive end.

State’s big men scored 39 points. They didn’t outscore Marvin Bagley and Wendell Carter - Bagley had 31 and Carter 11 for 42 - but Duke couldn’t seem to stop them.

And on the most basic level, State scored 96 points and shot 50.7%. State’s had some high scoring games this year but most of them were against weaker opponents like Jacksonville (116), South Carolina State (103) or VMI (102).

Against better teams, State scored 90 against a then-struggling Arizona, 58 against Tennessee, 62 against Clemson and 58 against Notre Dame.

Part of it was that State is a more experienced team but not all of it. Look at their freshmen guards.

Braxton Beverly held his own against Trevon Duval, scoring 14 on 3-5 from the floor, including a clutch late three - and had just two turnovers to Duval’s six.

And Lavar Batts, who is averaging 16.4 minutes and 5.4 ppg, played with immense confidence.

Duke at this point is not a championship team. The defense is too erratic and the offense is, for lack of a better word, disruptable.

The good news is that the talent is there and though it’s young, getting knocked around a bit is probably good for them. Early in the season Wendell Carter said he didn’t see any reason why this team shouldn’t go undefeated. As we listened, we thought Littlejohn, DeanDome JPJ, Cassell and the PNC.

And it’s not just home courts either. The glory of the ACC is that any team can beat any other team. The better teams tend to win more, but it’s pretty rare to go undefeated in conference.

What matters is not that a team loses. Everyone loses at some point. What matters is how you respond.

Duke got clubbed in the face by a team that was stronger and mentally tougher Saturday night. They can sulk about it or emulate what made State successful.

If Duke is smart - and Coach K is pretty brilliant at drawing lessons from failure - this loss will ultimately help.


Player of the game vs. NC State

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    Grayson Allen
    (11 votes)
  • 74%
    Marvin Bagley
    (420 votes)
  • 1%
    Wendell Carter
    (10 votes)
  • 0%
    Gary Trent
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    Trevon Duval
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    Javin DeLaurier
    (1 vote)
  • 3%
    Alex O’ Connell
    (20 votes)
  • 16%
    Antonio Vrankovic
    (91 votes)
563 votes total Vote Now

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