NC State-Duke Preview
Though their campuses are just a short drive from one another, the trip to Duke has not been a pleasant one for North Carolina State in recent years.
The Wolfpack will look to stop their losing streak in their ACC rivals' building on the anniversary of their last win in Cameron Indoor Stadium when they face No. 23 Duke on Saturday.
This will be the Blue Devils' 236th consecutive game played as a ranked team. However, given the way their season has been going, there's a chance it also may be their last with that distinction.
Duke (13-4, 2-2) has split four games since conference play began, slipping past Virginia 69-65 on Monday after sophomore guard Rasheed Sulaimon banked in the go-ahead 3-pointer with 18.8 seconds left.
"We just have to run our own race. Whatever is said about us, is said about us. Win or lose," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "We're in the top 10, we're not in the top 10, we're this, we're that. I have a good basketball team and my kids played their hearts out. We're just going to keep moving on.
"Really, we'll be immune to praise or criticism because we will be our own self critics and there won't be any excuses. We're just going to play."
One of the reasons for the team's recent struggles has been the slump suffered by freshman Jabari Parker. In the team's 13 nonconference games, the forward averaged 21.4 points and 8.0 rebounds while shooting 52.8 percent. In ACC play, he is recording only 10.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per contest and making just 30.4 percent of his shots.
Parker had eight points and tied a season low with three rebounds Monday.
Playing in their own gym should help the Blue Devils. They've won 26 consecutive games in Cameron Indoor Stadium, which is tied with Florida and Stephen F. Austin for the longest active home win streak in the country. During that span, Duke has outscored opponents by 19.3 points per game.
"We've got to protect our home. This is our home," sophomore forward Amile Jefferson said. "When you walk out that door, you see there's white tape down. And that's us saying that when we cross that line right there, we're going to be Duke."
Playing at Cameron Indoor has troubled the Wolfpack (11-6, 1-3) a lot over the years. North Carolina State has lost 15 straight in the building, with the last win coming exactly 19 years ago on Jan. 18, 1995.
The Wolfpack will look to sophomore forward T.J. Warren to help them notch the upset. Warren leads the ACC with 22.2 points per game while also averaging 7.3 rebounds. He scored 22 before fouling out of a 70-69 loss at Wake Forest on Wednesday, N.C. State's fourth defeat in six games.
"What will help T.J. is if our other offensive players can step up and score more," coach Mark Gottfried said. "To do that, they have to have the ball more. Our big guys, we need to go to them more, and they need to develop and get better and better. As they develop more, and become more of a real offensive threat, it will open some things back up for T.J."
Because of ACC realignment, this will be the only matchup between the teams in 2013-14. It marks only the seventh time since the series began in 1911 that they will meet just once in the regular season.
The 20th-ranked Wolfpack beat No. 1 Duke 84-76 last Jan. 12.