Duke-N.C. State Preview
It's been almost a year to the day since Duke lost a game in the state of North Carolina. That defeat came at neighboring North Carolina State.
The fourth-ranked Blue Devils look for their first ACC road victory while trying to avenge last season's loss to the Wolfpack on Wednesday night in Raleigh.
Duke (16-1, 3-1) bounced back from its first loss in 10 months by extending its in-state winning streak to 22 games with a 76-60 win over Virginia on Saturday. The Blue Devils' last defeat in their home state came 88-74 at North Carolina State on Jan. 20.
Duke, which has split its last six trips to Raleigh, appeared to receive a wake-up call after a 66-61 loss at unranked Florida State last Wednesday dropped it from the top spot in the poll.
The Blue Devils have not lost back-to-back games to the Wolfpack (11-6, 1-2) since the 1994-95 season.
"We're a different team. We have to know that going into games - we're not going to walk onto the court and beat anybody," said guard Nolan Smith, who had 29 points against Virginia. "This conference is too good for that."
Andre Dawkins scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half and Mason Plumlee recorded a career-high 16 rebounds as the Blue Devils overcame a 10-point first-half deficit by outscoring the Cavaliers 43-18 over the final 16 minutes to avoid losing consecutive games for the first time in two years.
"There's a part of you that sometimes likes your kid to get stung a little bit - like, 'Don't touch the oven,'" coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "You don't want them to put their whole body there. ... (But) as long as they don't get seriously hurt, you know, experience is a hell of a thing, if you can use experience to help you and not hurt you."
Smith hopes to continue his solid offensive play as the Blue Devils try to avoid losing their first two ACC road games for the second straight season. The senior has averaged 24.6 points on 52.0 percent shooting over his last eight games.
He had 18 and was one of the only Blue Devils to shoot well - 7 of 14 from the field - at North Carolina State last season. The Wolfpack shot 58.2 percent and held Duke to 38.6 percent shooting.
North Carolina State opened ACC play with a 90-69 home win over Wake Forest on Jan. 8 before dropping road games to Boston College and Florida State.
The Wolfpack made 38.7 percent of their shots and were outscored 20-6 in the paint during Saturday's 84-71 loss to the Seminoles.
"We're going to keep battling," coach Sidney Lowe said. "I talked to the guys and told them that this is what it's all about. We have to bring it every night if we want to be successful."
Senior forward Tracy Smith, who scored 19 points at Florida State, had a team-high 23 on 10-of-12 shooting against the Blue Devils last season. Smith, who missed 10 games earlier this season with a knee injury, has averaged 20.0 points in the last three contests overall.