Duke 98 – NC State 85
Duke got their revenge on Thursday night as they came out blazing hot against the Wolfpack in Cameron Indoor. The Blue Devils hit 10 first half 3s and shot over 60% in the period. NC State could do nothing to stop them. The Pack battled back and got a monster game from Richard Howell (23 pts, 9 boards) and another solid performance from freshman Tyler Lewis (13 points, 6 assists and zero TOs), but even with a dominant 2nd half, the Pack could never get closer than 8 as Duke rolled to the 13 point win.
When Duke is at home and nailing 3s, they’re nearly unbeatable. NC State found that out the hard way on Thursday. It seemed as if the Pack came out a little cocky. They had already beaten Duke and it was as if they wanted to see if the Blue Devils would come out as cold as they did earlier in the season, but it was the exact opposite. Duke came out in attack mode and was playing at another level early in this one. 3 ball after 3 ball with hands in their face, Duke wasn’t missing and NC State found themselves down big very quickly.
“It was like they couldn’t miss” said freshman PG Tyler Lewis. “They hit nearly everything they put up and if they missed, a lot of times they got the offensive rebound, kicked it out and then hit another one.”
But State didn’t quit.
After going into the break down 21, State began what was a pretty impressive comeback. Richard Howell led the way with an inspiring second half performance. The big man was just unstoppable, inside or out. He was hitting jumpers, grabbing rebounds, Howell was simply doing it all while not accepting defeat.
“Richard Howell, of all the players in our league, he’s the unsung hero. The unsung great player in our league. Howell could play for anybody in the country. He’s just so easy to play with. He puts up amazing efficient numbers, big time numbers. That kid is terrific. He’s just absolutely terrific.” said Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
But Rich’s big game wasn’t big enough. State fought back hard and really outplayed Duke in the 2nd half, shooting 65%, but it wasn’t enough to make up for Duke’s monster opening game run.
“I thought I was ready to play, I thought my team was ready to play, but obviously we didn’t come out with the fire power and intensity we needed to.” said Richard Howell.
NC State now finds themselves at 5-5 in the ACC with a road game against Clemson on the horizon. The Pack has played well lately, however doesn’t have much to show for it. With a bunch of close losses, one has to wonder when NC State will start to either find a little luck, or dial up the ‘refuse to lose’ attitude late in games. Either way, if they’re going to run off a big streak here soon (and I think they are), they’re going to need Lorenzo Brown back. Brown has now missed 2 1/2 games with an ankle injury that we just don’t know too much about. Will he be ready for Clemson? NC State sure hopes so.