No. 23 Blue Devils roll over Wolfpack
Catching a break in scheduling and a weak team fueled Duke’s easy 95-60 rout of N.C. State Saturday afternoon in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
But the Blue Devils’ win over a Big Four rival was more than that. No. 23 Duke (14-4, 3-2 ACC) continued to extend its bench, got a return to early-season form by freshman Jabari Parker and pulled out an old-school favorite in the program — full-court pressure defense.
The Wolfpack (11-7, 1-4 ACC) lost its third straight, was left unable to capitalize on its height advantage and struggled with only eight scholarship players available. The rout was thorough and convincing, and came in front of George H.W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States.
“Wednesday was our first day of practice,” said Andre Dawkins of taking Tuesday off following a win over visiting Virginia on Monday. “We focused just on us. It gave us a day to worry about Duke. And then we put in the game plan on Thursday and Friday.”
The plan was for Parker to be more of an attacker, speed up the game with the defensive pressure and find a way to corral the Wolfpack’s T.J. Warren, the ACC’s leading scorer.
Warren’s 23 points were never a factor because Duke used two fivesomes in the first half to pressure all 94 feet. The Blue Devils got nine steals and N.C. State had 15 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes, making for a 15-point difference in 15 minutes.
“Our defense was the main reason,” Parker said. “We got on T.J. Warren. We wanted to stay on him the whole game.”
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said Parker’s choice of attacking moves over jump shots was pivotal. Parker had 12 free throw attempts in his first four league games and was 7-for-10 at the line scoring 23 on Saturday.
“And it wasn’t because of bad calls,” Krzyzewski said. “He wasn’t putting anybody in a position to call a foul. So he has to keep that attack mode there.”
Rasheed Sulaimon led a 38-point bench effort with 13 and Dawkins had 11. Rodney Hood added 11 points, Quinn Cook 10 points and Amile Jefferson nine points and eight rebounds.
Duke outrebounded N.C. State 35-32 despite the Wolfpack grabbing the game’s first 12. Duke had a 33-2 edge in points off turnovers.
Duke, known for reducing to a seven-player rotation in league play over the years, had 10 players with 13 or more minutes and not necessarily due to the blowout. The Blue Devils had nine players with 12 or more minutes against Virginia.
“It’s something we’ve learned over the first ACC games, that the conference games take even more of a toll on you,” Krzyzewski said. “And since we’re not this rugged team, it probably takes a bigger toll earlier. We’re younger.”
“Duke was terrific,” said N.C. State head coach Mark Gottfried. “The way Mike used their depth and pressure defense affected our inexperience and our short bench.”
Krzyzewski said the performance was his team’s best, that everything was good. He also said the youth are learning how to stay at a high performance level despite fatigue.
“When we get going in Cameron and the crowd’s behind us, we just feel like everything’s going to go in,” Dawkins said. “It eliminates tired for us on defense. Tired goes out the window because of the fans and your teammates are giving you all of that extra energy. It’s fun when we can do that.”