NORTH CAROLINA STATE WOLFPACK (16-6)
at DUKE BLUE DEVILS (19-2)
Cameron Indoor Stadium – Durham, NC
Tip-off: Thursday, 9:00 p.m. ET
Line: Duke -11, Total: 150.5
With four losses in their past six games, North Carolina State will look to get back on track Thursday with a road upset against No. 4 Duke.
The story for this game may be the teams' ability to handle injuries. When NC State beat Duke at PNC Arena on Jan. 12, it was the Blue Devils’ first game without senior PF Ryan Kelly (foot), and even though they have begun to improve without him, junior PF Josh Hairston—now the team’s first big man off the bench—appears unlikely to play with an arm injury. However, the Wolfpack are dealing with a more important injury to PG Lorenzo Brown (ankle), who dropped 13 assists in the 84-76 win against Duke last month. He is questionable for action Thursday night after missing Saturday's game.
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The Wolfpack have one of the best offenses in the nation, scoring 78.5 PPG (11th in D-I) on a remarkable 50.4% FG (4th in nation). PG Lorenzo Brown (12.7 PPG, 6.9 APG, 4.3 RPG) is the engine of the offense, leading the ACC in assists, but he did not play in the last game when the Wolfpack fell by one point (79-78) to Miami in the final seconds of the game. SF C.J. Leslie (15.7 PPG, 7.5 RPG) leads the team in scoring and is coming off three consecutive double-doubles, a span in which he’s averaging 18.3 PPG and 12.0 RPG. His issue, as it has been all season, is that the more he gets the ball, the more he turns it over, with 5.3 turnovers per game in the past three contests. PF Richard Howell (12.8 PPG, 10.9 RPG) joins him down low as a beast on the boards, while freshman T.J. Warren (11.9 PPG, 3.5 RPG) has been remarkably efficient at the forward slot this year, making 63.2% FG. However, he has hit a cold stretch, averaging just 5.5 PPG on 4-of-12 shooting during his team's two-game losing skid. Freshman G Rodney Purvis (9.8 PPG) was forced to assume much of the ball control with Brown injured against Miami, but finished the game with two assists and four turnovers. Senior swingman Scott Wood (11.5 PPG) remains arguably the best sniper in the ACC, hitting 2.5 threes per game on a 42.7% clip. Wood drained all three of his attempts from deep in the first meeting against Duke.
Mike Krzyzewski’s squad also brings a high-octane offense to the table with 78.0 PPG (13th in D-I) and 47.3% FG (27th in nation). The star of the crew is PF Mason Plumlee (17.6 PPG, 10.8 RPG) who is making 60.4% FG and is beginning to regain his groove after hitting a funk. In his past three games he has made 81% FG (25-for-31), averaging 19.7 PPG in that span. SG Seth Curry (16.3 PPG) paces the team’s backcourt scoring, hitting 43.2% three-pointers. He was the star for Duke in the first game against NC State, scoring 22 points on 8-of-16 FG (5-of-10 threes), but could not play the final three minutes of the game after rolling his ankle. Curry was lights out in his last game, with 21 points on 5-of-7 threes against Florida State, and surpassing 20 points for the fifth time in the past eight games. PG Quinn Cook (11.5 PPG, 6.2 APG, 4.1 RPG) runs the Duke offense and is also coming off a hot game with 18 points (4-of-6 threes), six assists and five rebounds. The player who has to step up for Duke is freshman SG Rasheed Sulaimon (11.8 PPG), who was a dreadful 0-for-10 FG in the first meeting against the Wolfpack. He seems to have worked out of that funk though, averaging 15.2 PPG on 58% FG in the team’s five games since then.