NC State needed to do everything right if they wanted to knock off #2 Duke on Saturday night.
The Wolfpack played their most complete game of the season to upset the Blue Devils 96-85.
The Wolfpack had 6 players in double figures, led by Torin Dorn and Omer Yurtseven who both put up 16 on a combined 15-25 from the floor. Here are the quick hits on how NC State pulled off the upset.
— NC State Men’s Bball (@PackMensBball) January 7, 2018
— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) January 7, 2018
They out-physicalled Duke in the paint
Sure, Marvin Bagley put up 31 points, but other than that, the Wolfpack bigs dominated this basketball game. Duke has been beasts on the boards this season, but NC State punked them in the paint. The Pack out-rebounded them 34-32, We made a point earlier today that if NC State was going to stay close in this game, they needed to keep Duke off the offensive boards (they are the #1 team in the nation on the offensive glass). NC State did just that, battling their way to a 14-12 advantage there.
Omer Yurtseven may have played his best game in a Pack uniform. Not only did he play solid defense, but he also led the NC State offense, dropping 16 points on 8-14 shooting (he also finished with 9 boards and 3 blocks).
State also got big games from seniors Lennard Freeman and Malik Abu. These guys brought it tonight. Abu stopped settling for jumpers and got back to using his athleticism around the rim. He finished with 10 points.
Meanwhile, Freeman had another efficient night, finishing 5-8 from the floor, on his way to 13 points and 5 boards. Freeman’s rebuilt frame has been a true difference maker this season. His physicality has allowed him to be a real force in the middle for Kevin Keatts.
Braxton Beverly was a true leader
Beverly has had big games in both of NC State’s big upsets this season. He finished this one with 14 points and 5 assists (with only 2 TOs), but what Beverly really brought isn’t going to show up in the box score. Not only did he do a good job defending a bunch of future NBA guards that had a size and athleticism advantage on him, but he also answered the bell when NC State needed him.
When Duke had it within 3, with only 2:47 left to play, Beverly took a 3 ball off the dribble that he usually passes up. He wanted it and he drilled it. After 2 Bagley FTs, Beverly went off a screen and delivered a beautiful long bounce pass to the wing, for an open Torin Dorn 3 ball. He followed that up with a steal on the defensive end and 2 FTs. That spurt gave the Pack a 9 point lead and really ended up being the final nail in Duke’s coffin.
What Beverly is doing is insane. This kid is 5’10, playing his 14th game as a freshman and he already looks like a seasoned vet. It’s hard to imagine what he’ll be like as a senior.
Lavar Batts changed the game
We aren’t going to say we told you so, but we did. NC State desperately needs a playmaker like Batts, and tonight was the first time we saw him be the creator we knew he could be. He was dicing up the Duke defense and delivering no-look pass after no-look pass for easy dunks. Batts finished the game with 7 points, 5 assists and 4 boards… all without a single turnover.
Before Batts made a layup at the 13:04 mark in the first half, Duke had taken a 7 point lead and it looked as if they might run away with this one. But the freshman PG decided it was time for his coming out party. When Batts finally came out, with about 5 minutes left in the first half, the game was tied. He had scored 5 points and dished out 3 assists in those 8 minutes.
His energy and electric play got NC State back into this game and got them to start believing that they might just end up taking out Duke. He used his speed and quickness, not to find his own shots, but to create for others. Huge game for the freshman.
Elite team defense
We already talked about the rebounding, but what about the NC State defense? They were outstanding in every aspect. They did not allow the Duke guards to get into the lane and create. Their help and recover was perfect, with tons of communication and everyone on the same page.
The biggest stat of the game was Grayson Allen’s 8 points. NC State flustered Allen with a variety of different looks and had him off balance all night. One of best scorers in the ACC only shot 3-9 and you can credit Kevin Keatts game planning and Dorn/Freeman’s execution.
Duke ended up shooting a great 51%, but a lot of that was because Bagley was near unstoppable. They did, however, really do a great job at limiting any good looks from 3. There was a hand in every guy’s face and Duke ended the night shooting just 3-15 from long range.
Lastly, NC State’s pressure defense caused Duke to turn it over an uncharacteristic 16 times. As we pointed out this morning, Duke doesn’t turn it over much, so what the Pack was able to do was that much more impressive.
NC State is now 11-5 on the season with 2 wins over two different #2 ranked teams in the nation. They are also 1-2 in the conference and face off against #25 Clemson at home on Thursday.
We’ll have highlights and quotes coming soon!