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Jim Previews Duke-NC State

Never sleep on a Triangle rival.

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Duke v Louisville
LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - FEBRUARY 12: Cam Reddish #2 of the Duke Blue Devils celebrates against the Louisville Cardinals at KFC YUM! Center on February 12, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Which ACC team has the longest winning streak against Duke?

Why that would be the N.C. State Wolfpack.

It’s not a very long streak, only two games.

But still.

Last year’s game was played in Raleigh, a 96-85 State win that dropped Duke to 1-2 in the ACC. State shot just over 50 percent and placed six players in double figures. This was one of the games that sent Mike Krzyzewski to the dusty part of his file cabinet in search of those zone blueprints.

But it was the most recent game in Cameron that had consequences. In 2017 Duke inexplicably lost 84-82 at home to a truly bad Wolfpack team. This loss likely kept Duke from a one seed in the NCAA Tournament, which forced Duke to play a quasi road game in the second round, which, well, let’s not go any further down that rabbit hole.

Antonio Vrankovic is the only current Duke player who was on the roster when Duke beat NC State twice in 2016. But he did not play in either game.

So far, the payback portion of the 2019 season has gone well for Duke. St. John’s, Boston College and Virginia went 3-0 against Duke last season, 0-4 this season.

Jack White has noticed. “For me and Javin (DeLaurier) and the upperclassmen, we feel like we owe them one and especially defending our house against them. But for the younger guys, I feel like we are all motivated enough and especially just staying in control of the conference with our standings.”

Does NC State join the victims list?

The Wolfpack have had a strange season. State jumped into the national rankings with a 13-1 start and what looked like a path to a good NCAA Tournament seed.

But recent returns have been mixed. In consecutive games State held their opponent to 47 points in the first and scored 96 in the second and somehow managed to lose both, by 23 and 19 points. They’ve defeated Syracuse, took Virginia into overtime and lost to Wake Forest. Reserve guard Eric Lockett is suspended indefinitely after assault charges and touted transfer Sacha Killyea-Jones apparently has been dismissed from the team.

So, we can’t even pretend to know what NC State team will show up.

But we can expect Markell Johnson, Torin Dorn and Braxton Beverly to show up. Johnson is a point guard, the ACC leader in assists last season. He’s been up-and-down this year and missed some games with a hip injury.

He was injured and sat out last year’s game with Duke. But he’s had 13 combined assists in State’s last two games, wins over Pittsburgh and Syracuse. He seems to be trending upwards.

Dorn is State’s undersized power forward, tough enough to play inside but versatile enough to step outside and hit some threes.

In other word, Mike Krzyzewski’s kind of player.

Dorn did play last year, scoring 16 points and hitting a pair of bombs.

And there’s Braxton Beverly, the poster-child for streak shooting, the guy who went 0-for-9 on 3s against Virginia Tech but has gone 15-for-28 in three games since.

He had 14 points and five assists against Duke last season.

Of course, we don’t necessarily know which Duke team will show up. White says Duke can’t have any more starts like the Louisville game.

“Obviously as great as the last ten minutes of the game was we were in that position for a reason. It’s easy enough to look at the last ten minutes and how good we were but for us I think a critical part of us learning is why we were in that position to begin with. It’s a good thing to know that we are able to respond to adverse situations like that.”

Duke is coming off a high-profile win at Virginia, a high-profile comeback at Louisville, with arch-rival North Carolina coming up next week.

Time to stay in the moment.

Tre Jones knows the drill.

“We prepare for every game the same way. No matter who it is we know that it’s a big match-up especially in the ACC. We are coming in and ready to play and ready to get back to playing in front of our fans here in Cameron on Saturday. Those other games we have had starting with our first game of the year against Kentucky, that’s what we have been used to so with these rivalry games that we have coming up there is a lot more energy.”

White concurs.

“I feel like this stage of conference play we are playing top-tier teams every game. I feel like with this patch of games we just have to take it one opponent at a time. We can’t look forward to Carolina. We have to make sure we take care of business tomorrow night against State because at this stage we are in a good spot with our standings and such, but we can’t have a minor slip up like we potentially could have had on Tuesday. This is one of those games where we need to take care of business.”

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