Photo: Jordan Goldwire and Cassius Stanley
DURHAM – Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski still says 20 conference games is two too many, but the increase this season from 18 was necessary to accommodate ESPN launching the ACC Network.
His players, though, disagree. They are happy with the expansion, especially with what happened 12 days ago. Duke avenged a 22-point loss to N.C. State with an 88-69 victory in Monday night rematch with the Wolfpack at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
In the previous three seasons, Duke and N.C. State only played once a season, but with a home-and-home series this year the Blue Devils weren't faced waiting until next year or hoping for an ACC Tournament match-up.
“It was great,” said junior guard Jordan Goldwire. “Everybody knows what they did to us at their place. It was huge for us to get a win against them at our place. But, obviously, we lost three of the last four, so just to get a win was big.”
Duke improved to 24-6 overall and 14-5 in the ACC to remain one game back of Louisville (24-6, 15-4 ACC), while N.C. State (18-12, 9-10) dipped below .500 in conference play to remain on the NCAA Tournament bubble.
Goldwire’s 11 points with five assists made him one of four players in double figures. He also matched a career high with six rebounds and added two steals. Freshman Cassius Stanley scored 18, freshman Vernon Carey 17 with seven rebounds and sophomore Tre Jones 15.
The rematch started out much as the previous game with N.C. State driving to the basket and converting, while Duke was missing from short range and from outside.
Duke trailed 11-4 in the first six-and-a-half minutes as N.C. State senior guard Markell Johnson, who is tough to stop even for Duke’s defensive gem Tre Jones, used ball screens to drive twice for field goals and then converted two free throws on a third play to the bucket.
“Markell is magical on the ball screen,” Krzyzewski said. “You can’t defend him alone. You have to defend him with five guys. The only thing we could do is keep him out of the paint. The other thing we did is we rebounded well, and it gave us a fastbreak.”
So magical, Duke needed a 2-1-2 zone to slow down Johnson the Wolfpack. The bench also provided a spark and the same time the defense slowed down the Wolfpack.
The Blue Devils had 24 of their 38 first-half points from substitutes with 20 of the points from three players, graduate senior forward Justin Robinson, junior guard Jordan Goldwire and freshman forward Matthew Hurt.
Robinson, receiving more playing time of late, hit 3-of-3 shots in the first half, including two three-pointers for eight points at intermission. Hurt has 22 starts this year and Goldwire 15, but they came off the bench to combine for five crucial points on back-to-back possessions at a point Duke was struggling to score.
Hurt converted a three-point play to trim N.C. State’s lead to 11-6 with 13:05 in the half. After an N.C. State miss, Duke’s next basket was Goldwire’s three-pointer to cut the deficit one point, 11-10.
N.C. State had managed a 36-30 lead with 2:03 to play in the first half, but Duke scored the final eight points, with six from bench players. Hurt converted an offensive rebound and Vernon Carey was fouled and hit two free throws. The next possession, N.C. State’s Johnson forced a drive in traffic, the ball was knocked free in the lane and Wendell Moore pushed it ahead for a coast-to-coast layup. Moore scored two free throws with four seconds when he was fouled on a drive to the basket.
Goldwire ended up playing 37 minutes, finishing 11 points and five assists. Moore scored 10 in 26 minutes. Hurt score five points in nine minutes in the first half and finished with seven in 12 minutes. Robinson scored a season-high 10 points in 14:44.
“We did great job in the first half, establishing ourselves on the defensive end,” Keatts said. “The second half we stopped making shots, and they were making plays.”
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