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Next Up - NC State In Raleigh

One of the most enduring ACC rivalries resumes

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Duke
Feb 15, 2020; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Prentiss Hubb (3) dribbles the ball as Duke Blue Devils center Vernon Carey Jr. (1) defends during the first half at Cameron Indoor Stadium. 
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Factoid of the day:

Beginning in 2010 Duke’s men’s basketball team is 6-5 against North Carolina in games played in Chapel Hill.

Duke-NC State Game Info

  • Date: 2/19/20
  • Time: 9:00
  • Venue: PNC Arena
  • Video: ESPN

Beginning in 2010 Duke is 2-4 against North Carolina State in games played in Raleigh.

It’s a short 25 miles or so down I-40 from Duke to the PNC Arena, where State plays its home games.

But something happens along the way.

Those losing Duke teams include 2010 and 2015, both of whom went on to win the NCAA title and two more, 2013 and 2018 that advanced to the Elite Eight. Sidney Lowe has one of those wins, Mark Gottfried two and Kevin Keatts the most recent.

The last time to two teams played in Raleigh was in 2018, when State beat Duke 96-85, the most points Duke allowed that season.


State always seems to be on the periphery of the NCAA Tournament and that’s certainly the case this season. Having lost three of their last five the Wolfpack is 7-7 in an ACC that is not having a banner year.

They badly need a signature win and Duke would be that win. No problem with motivation for the Pack and their rabid fan base.

But Duke also has things to play for, lots of things to play for. The Blue Devils are a game up in the loss column on Louisville and Florida State. In a league where three teams seem to have separated themselves the advantages of winning the regular season and getting that top seed are obvious.

Then there’s the NCAA Tournament. A solid finish and an ACC Tournament title could propel Duke to a number one regional seed. A bad finish could drop Duke down to a three or worse.

Cassius Stanley and Tre Jones met with the media Tuesday to discuss how Duke avoids being State’s signature win Wednesday night.

First, a Stanley update. He’s fine, after Saturday’s bizarre injury. It was during the pregame shoot-around when a manager reached for a loose ball and got a Stanley eye instead. Stanley said he might have been able to play the last 10 minutes or so against Notre Dame had he been needed.

Obviously, he wasn’t needed.

Back to State.

What does Duke need to do to come back up I-40 with a win?

“They’re a very aggressive team,” Stanley notes. “Their point guard is very good [and] they have great bigs. It’s going to be a great game, especially because being in that environment is going to be great. They’re very aggressive, so that’s what we’re seeing on tape.”

So it starts with matching that aggressiveness and energy.

“We had lost the hunger a little bit,” Jones said of Duke’s mid-season slide. “We weren’t playing the same on defense, so [we are] getting back to how we were playing on the defensive end, playing with that hunger, the same intensity every single night, coming out right away from the start and jumping on opponents. It’s a great atmosphere over there. But we’ve got to come out ready to play and play our game.”

Duke also wants to run State off the 3-point line, where they take more than 22 per game and make 31 percent of them.

“Very important,” Stanley says. “We’ve talked about it. They thrive in transition, too, so we’ve been talking about just getting back in transition, protecting the three, first of all, and making them come into the paint. We’re going to try to implement that tomorrow.”

When Duke has the ball they’ll have to deal with lanky 6-11 center Manny Bates, the league’s leading shot blocker, at almost three per game and that in less than 20 minutes per game.

Respecting Bates doesn’t mean conceding the paint. It just means attacking smartly.

“The coaches have talked about that a good amount of times,” Stanley says. “I think he’s leading the league in shot blocks or something like that. It’s going to be a challenge, but we’re up for the challenge and we’ve been working on ways to finish over and around a big man like that, so I think we’ll be ready.”

Duke also should have an advantage in depth over a Wolfpack team that plays seven guys most of the time. Duke wore down Notre Dame Saturday and that was without Stanley.

If there’s an individual match-up to watch it’s Jones versus State’s Markell Johnson, Jones leading the ACC with 6.6 assists per game, Johnson second at 6.5.

But Johnson is shooting just under 40 percent from the field, 25.6 percent on 3s.

“Just trying to make it difficult the entire night,” Jones says of Johnson, “knowing that he’s a key player for them, just make it difficult and lock down all their key guys.”

The emphasis seems to be on Duke being Duke, playing its game and imposing its will on State. It’s a great formula if it works. We’ll find out Wednesday night.