Duke earns points for special win vs. Wolfpack

DURHAM, N.C. — Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski wasn’t interested in delving into whatever it was that caused his team to fall behind NC State by 20 points with 11 minutes left in the neighborhood rivals’ game Thursday night.

But he sure didn’t mind peeling away a few layers about why his team overcame that deficit to notch a 78-73 victory at frenzied Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Duke was awful shooting the ball for most of the night and didn’t match the Wolfpack’s intensity for the first 25-30 minutes. But as has happened so many times before, the Blue Devils found a way to win another game.

Duke improved to 22-4 overall and 9-2 in the ACC while the Wolfpack dropped to 18-8 and 7-4.

Here are both teams’ grades for their performances:

NC State offense: The Pack did a tremendous job attacking Duke by going at the basket and taking quick open shots in the first half. It pulled back some in the second half but still grew the lead. But once it got to 20 with 11:33 left, State pulled back too much and also struggled with Duke’s pressure, which took Mark Gottfried’s team out of its offensive rhythm. State shot 44.1 percent from the floor, but didn’t make a 3-pointer after halftime and missed some crucial foul shots late. Grade: B-.

Duke offense: Krzyzewski wanted to credit State’s defense for his team missing 10 of its first 11 field goal attempts, and at one point shooting just 2-for-16 from 3-point range. But once Duke turned it up a notch the Devils created quality looks, especially for Seth Curry and Austin Rivers, who combined for 34 points after halftime. Duke turned over the ball just five times, but made just 36.2 percent of its shot attempts, including 27.6 percent (8-29) from beyond the arc. Grade: C.

NC State defense: The Pack did a nice job defending the interior, racking up eight blocks on the night. But once Duke got going, the Wolfpack couldn’t stop Curry or Rivers, and that’s when it mattered most. Duke converted only 36.2 percent of its shots, but for all that State did well, the last 11 minutes are too ugly to override much of the first 29 minutes. Grade: C-.

Duke defense: Awful night until the final 10 minutes. The Wolfpack got whatever shots it wanted for much of the night. The problem, and this was as much State’s doing as it was Duke’s, the Wolfpack made too many poor decisions in the final 10 minutes that helped Duke get the win. Some of the Devils even admitted State helped out some. Grade: D.

NC State intangibles: You have to love the approach State brought into this game. Gottfried had his team believing, and even though they wore hideous black uniforms that should be retired for good, the Pack played its best hoops of the season for the better part of 29 minutes. But when Duke really cut into what was once a 20-point lead, the body language on the Pack players brought back reminders of the previous era. And, blowing a huge lead like that requires a lot of help from the losing team. Grade: D.

Duke intangibles: How can you not give the Blue Devils an A? They were awful, lacked communication and leadership on the floor for most of the night, but while Curry and Rivers scored most of the points during the comeback, the entire team deserves credit for the victory. This was a special victory. Grade: A.