N.C. State-Duke Preview

BY foxsports • February 4, 2011

Returning to ACC play seemed to help Duke bounce back from a rare defeat. Facing North Carolina State at home could put that loss even further behind.

The fifth-ranked Blue Devils will try for their 11th straight win at Cameron Indoor Stadium over the struggling Wolfpack on Saturday.

Duke (20-2, 7-1) lost for the third time in 40 games Sunday, 93-78 to St. John's at Madison Square Garden.

After shooting 41.9 percent in that defeat, the Blue Devils made 52.6 percent of their attempts in Wednesday night's 80-62 win at Maryland, going 10 of 23 from 3-point range. Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith combined for 43 points and four of those 3-pointers.

"This shows a lot of character," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "To come on the road three days later and win like this is really a huge thing for our kids."

Krzyzewski's team could get even a bigger boost in returning home, where it's won an NCAA-best 31 in a row and 53 straight against unranked teams. N.C. State, meanwhile, is 1-6 on the road with its only win coming over Elon on Jan. 5.

The Blue Devils have also won 25 consecutive in-state games since falling 88-74 to the Wolfpack on Jan. 20, 2010. Duke, though, led from the opening basket in a 92-78 win at N.C. State on Jan. 19.

Smith had 22 points in that victory, and Singler added 18 despite missing 12 of 18 shots. N.C. State's Tracy Smith, averaging a team-best 14.7 points, had 19 to lead five players in double figures, but the Wolfpack shot 36.8 percent.

The defeat was among six in the past seven games for N.C. State (12-10, 2-6). The Wolfpack bounced back from their loss to Duke to beat Miami 72-70 on Jan. 23, but they've dropped three straight since and are on the verge of their longest skid of the season.

N.C. State, which has shot 41.6 percent in conference play, made 40.0 percent of its attempts in Wednesday night's 77-69 loss to Virginia Tech. Freshman forward C.J. Leslie had 18 points, while Smith and Scott Wood were the only starters in double figures with 11 apiece.

"We have to be more consistent," coach Sidney Lowe said. "We haven't put together two halves, offensively and defensively, in a long time. It's been at least five or six games where we have had four or five guys play well."

The Wolfpack played their second straight game without point guard Ryan Harrow (illness), but the freshman, who has started three of his last four games, could return against the Blue Devils.

"We're hoping he's going to play on Saturday," Lowe said. "He stayed home (Wednesday) because he's still pretty weak. I went with him to the doctor yesterday, but we thought it was best that he stayed home and got some rest."

Duke has won 29 of 34 against N.C. State and leads the series 137-97. The Blue Devils have also prevailed in 16 of 17 meetings in Durham and hold a 45-23 edge at Cameron Indoor.

Duke has outscored the Wolfpack by an average of 18.1 points in winning the past 10 matchups at home.

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