Duke-NC State Preview
Quinn Cook and Duke’s returning players are well aware that last season ended at PNC Arena, where they have also had recent trouble with North Carolina State.
The second-ranked Blue Devils return there Sunday when they face the Wolfpack and seek to improve to 15-0 for the seventh time in coach Mike Krzyzewski’s tenure.
Duke (14-0, 2-0 ACC) was upset 78-71 by No. 14 seed Mercer in the 2014 NCAA tournament. The Blue Devils have also dropped two of their last three visits to this building versus North Carolina State (11-5, 2-1), including an 84-76 defeat Jan. 12, 2013, in the most recent one that ended their 15-0 start.
"I’m 0-2 there, my sophomore year against N.C. State and last year against Mercer," Cook said. "I’m not going there thinking, oh Mercer, oh N.C. State, it’s a new team, a new year and hopefully myself and Amile (Jefferson) and Rasheed (Sulaimon) can get our first win in there."
The Blue Devils have to like their chances if they get the ball inside to Jahlil Okafor, one of three freshmen starters. Okafor is among the nation’s leaders in field-goal percentage at 68.1.
The center only managed six shots Wednesday for his second-lowest total. He finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds in the 73-65 win at Wake Forest – Duke’s first by less than 10 points.
"I’m sure we’ll see all types of defenses," Okafor said. "Coach has pointed that out numerous times, going into the game we really don’t know what they’re going to do with me being on the block so we try to figure out what they’re doing early in the game."
N.C. State, which is 11-2 at home, is enduring a difficult week after falling 61-51 at No. 3 Virginia on Wednesday. The Wolfpack led with 8:59 remaining.
"There’s a lot of good things that we did," coach Mark Gottfried said. "We just didn’t do enough and didn’t finish the game.”
The Wolfpack have been bolstered by Alabama transfer Trevor Lacey, their leading scorer at 16.7 points per game. Lacey is shooting 43.2 percent on 3-pointers and Ralston Turner is at 40.6.
"Ralston Turner is probably the best shooter in the conference, Trevor Lacey is one of the better scorers in the country so we’ll have our hands full on Sunday and it’s going to be a team effort trying to make those guys work," Cook said.
Lacey struggled to make 3 of 9 shots for nine points against the Cavaliers. Turner made four 3-pointers for the second straight game and scored 14.
Duke won twice over N.C. State last season, posting a 75-67 victory in the ACC tournament semifinals in the last matchup March 15. Now the Blue Devils won’t have to contend with T.J. Warren, who totaled 44 points in those meetings before declaring for the NBA.
Krzyzewski is three wins shy of 1,000 after his team trailed in the second half for the first time Wednesday. Freshman Justise Winslow scored a season-high 20 points.
"It was a good wake-up call for us and I think we’re excited to go into a hostile environment on Sunday," Cook said.