Curry, Wood could play big roles in rematch
Fourth-ranked Duke will be down one, and possibly two, players from their playing rotation.
It’s looking more and more like N.C. State starting point guard Lorenzo Brown either will be unavailable or severely limited.
That means when the Wolfpack and Blue Devils meet Thursday (9 p.m., WRAL), the play of perimeter sharp-shooters Scott Wood and Seth Curry will be even more important.
Curry and Wood are the top 3-point shooters in the ACC. Wood has made 56 shots from 3-point range in 22 games for the Wolfpack, while Duke’s Curry has made 51 in 20 games.
Curry has hit 43.2 percent of his 3-point attempts, good for second in the ACC behind Virginia’s Joe Harris (45.8 percent). Wood is third at 42.7 percent.
Playing on teams that average 78 points, Wood and Curry offer chances to break a game open in a hurry.
That kind of production will be even more important given the injury situations for both teams.
Duke remains without senior forward Ryan Kelly, who has been on crutches since suffering a right foot injury on Jan. 8. On Tuesday, reserve forward Josh Hairston missed practice and has his right arm in a sling due to an infection that stems from a cut and open wound he received in a 75-50 win at Wake Forest on Jan. 30.
At N.C. State (16-6, 5-4 ACC), Brown is hobbled with a sprained ankle and didn’t play in Saturday’s 79-78 loss to Miami. He attempted to practice Monday but was in too much discomfort.
“I cannot imagine that he’s going to be 100 percent by Thursday, but again, I don’t know that,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said Tuesday. “We’ll have to wait and see how he responds to the treatment.”
Brown scored 12 points and had 13 assists when N.C. State beat Duke 84-76 at PNC Arena in Raleigh on Jan. 12.
Duke point guard Quinn Cook said the Blue Devils (19-2, 6-2) are preparing as if Brown will play and they will adjust if he doesn’t.
Whether or not they face Brown, Duke’s defense makes it tough for opponents to score on the perimeter. Duke opponents have made only 30.4 percent of their 3-pointers, which is third in the ACC.
“They’ve always done a really good job of denying the wings and try to limit touches to the wings,” Wood said. “You have to work hard, make sure you set screens. You have got to hit the open man and make the extra pass.”
N.C. State is even better than Duke at stopping 3-pointers. The Wolfpack lead the ACC in 3-point defense, as teams have made only 28.7 percent against them.
But Wood knows how difficult it can be to slow down Duke, particularly at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“We are obviously going to have to guard them well,” Wood said. “It will be a tough task, and we’re up for it.”
The Blue Devils, after experiencing a few sluggish games right after Kelly’s injury, have found their stride offensively again. Duke has made 54.7 percent of its shots during the current three-game winning streak.
Saturday at Florida State, the Blue Devils made 60.8 percent of their shots, including 11 of 18 3-pointers (61.1 percent) to thrash the Seminoles 79-60.
Curry made 5 of 7 from 3-point range for 21 points against Florida State. He also scored 21 points in the win at Wake Forest last week.
“I think we are just sharing the ball and guys are confident in making shots,” Curry said. “We’re sharing the ball and guys are being unselfish and hitting the open man rather than trying to force shots.”