DuPree column: Cameron, K spell doom for Wolfpack yet again
DURHAM — Sooner or later, N.C. State will end Duke’s streak against the Wolfpack at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
It was obvious early that Thursday night’s game wasn’t going to be the one, with the Blue Devils recording a 98-85 win. Not that they didn’t make it interesting by shooting 65.5 percent from the floor in the second half.
It wasn’t a good omen that Tyler Lewis, Wolfpack’s starting point guard in place of the injured Lorenzo Brown, had N.C. State’s first five points and had outscored C.J. Leslie (one point), Richard Howell (zip) and Scott Wood (five) through the 7:50 mark of the first half.
By then, Duke had stretched its lead to 37-19 on a driving dunk by Alex Murphy that drew the loudest roar of the first half from the Cameron crowd.
“Eww ... I was so excited,” Duke’s Mason Plumlee, who finished with 30 points, said of Murphy’s dunk. “My adrenaline was going after that. Wow.”
Murphy’s slam contrasted the majority of the Blue Devils’ offense in the first half, when they hit 10 of 13 shots from outside the 3-point line.
“The first half, we were on fire,” Plumlee said. “Ten (3-pointers)? Come on. We’re going to keep taking those shots, but we had to get some offensive boards, get it at the free throw line and execute down the stretch.”
That scoring barrage was similar to the fast start the Wolfpack had in its 84-76 win at PNC Arena on Jan. 12.
And just as Duke rallied in Raleigh, N.C. State had a second-half turnaround at Cameron.
Richard Howell hammered away inside to post 15 of his 23 points after halftime, and C.J. Leslie had nine of his 16 in the final 20 minutes.
“We knew they were going to make a run,” Plumlee said. “We knew they were going to come back strong; they’re too good not to. I thought we did a good job of maintaining the lead in the second half.”
A big part of that was Duke’s ability to get the Wolfpack into foul trouble. Howell fouled out with 3:41 remaining, and Leslie followed him to the bench at the 1:18 mark.
Plumlee made 12 of 16 free throws for the Blue Devils, while Seth Curry was 10-of-12.
“I have to get to the foul line,” Plumlee said. “When a team is in foul trouble, you smell blood and keep going at it. Guys are playing not to foul.
“We were aggressive; they were, too. Quinn (Cook) and Tyler (Thornton) both had two (fouls) in the first half.”
This also was the seventh game that Duke has played with out senior Ryan Kelly. Not coincidentally, the loss to the Pack was the Blue Devils first without their tri-captain in the lineup.
“That was our first game without him,” said Cook, who hit all four of his 3-point shots in the first half and finished with 21 points. “We wanted to show how we’ve grown since then.
“We executed the gameplan more than we did at State. We let them get too many transition points. We didn’t corral their point guard. ... We got better after that, but we’ve got to work on closing the game out, keeping leads.”
N.C. State still hasn’t beaten the Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium since a 77-60 victory on Jan. 18, 1995. And even that win wasn’t with Krzyzewski on the bench, as he was sitting out the majority of the season because of complications after back surgery.
You have to look back to Feb. 6, 1988, for the most recent time a Krzyzewski-coached Duke team lost to the Wolfpack at Cameron — a 77-74 decision well before any of the players in Thursday night’s game were born.
That’s pretty impressive, even by Duke standards.
You may contact Jimmy DuPree at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-419-6674.