Notes from the game:
- No question that this season has shown mass improvement from the previous two in terms of intensity, hustle and pride exhibited by the Pack, however that has seldom resulted in the full 40 minutes needed to beat a quality opponent….until last night. The Pack was focused and aggressive from start to finish. NC STATE played as if they believed they were the better team and it showed.
- Tracy Smith continues to put on an offensive clinic this season, going 10-12 from the floor while using an array of post moves and even a couple of face-up jumpers. Duke rotated 4 different big men on him and none had the answer.
A big reason that Smith, despite being NC STATE’s best player, has room to maneuver in the post is the presence of freshman wing-man Scott Wood. Coach K, knowing a thing or two about shooters, had Duke focus their defense game plan on shutting down Wood. Duke succeeded in the first half, holding Wood without a FG attempt. Kyle Singler spent most of his time on Wood, clearly rattling him early. That changed with the first offensive possession of the second half as NC STATE ran a screen specifically for the shooter that resulted in his first shot…he was fouled by Singler and made all three free throw attempts. This provided the spark and got him going as he finished with 10 points in the half, including a pretty pull-up mid-range jumper and a deep 3, both in Singler’s face. As he gains confidence, Wood has the look of being a dominant ACC player down the road. His game has few holes.
- Richard Howell is another freshman playing very well and he seems to be coming into his own offensively. He is deceptively athletic and plays very aggressively down low and on the perimeter.
- Dennis Horner started off shaky, missing an easy layup and turning the ball over within the first minute of the game, but settled in and took great advantage of some favorable match ups down low to turn in one of his best games as a Wolfpacker with 20 points and some timely three pointers.
- Far and away the most important and telling statistic was NC STATE’s assist-to-turnover ratio, an outstanding 18:9. Duke’s pressure D is renowned and NC STATE took care of the basketball, a truly wonderful thing to watch from the stands.
- CJ Leslie was spotted in the stands sitting with future Wolfpack bad ass Ryan Harrow…DO IT CJ. DO IT.
- Lorenzo Brown was also in attendance.
- All and all, a great win for NC STATE. A difficult road trip to Maryland looms, with the always dangerous and shimmy-shaking Greivis Vasquez at the ready. The Pack will then return home for another emotional rivalry game vs. the hated heels of tar. Can NC STATE maintain some momentum to close out the first half of ACC play strong?
God I hope so.