North Carolina State Plays Well, Duke Plays Better

Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

It was a lot easier to say the North Carolina State Wolfpack were going to win the ACC before the season started than it was for me to believe it.

Even though NC State came into the season ranked higher than any of their ACC foes, I ranked Duke as the No. 1 team in the conference in our preseason ACC Power Rankings, just because I couldn’t see the Wolfpack de-throning the Blue Devils.

It just so happens that the Miami Hurricanes are 10-0 and on top of the ACC.

Either way, Duke swept their seasons series with NC State on Thursday night, handing the Wolfpack their fifth loss in the last seven games, in a 98-85 game which was never really close.

Duke got off to a 25-6 start, as Rasheed Sulaimon and Mason Plumlee combined for 17 points in the first 6 minutes of the game. While Plumlee continued to have a monster game with 30 points, the problem for the Wolfpack once again was the absence of junior guard Lorenzo Brown, as Duke’s backcourt absolutely schooled the freshman tandem of Rodney Purvis and Tyler Lewis.

Seth Curry and Quinn Cook had a field day on Thursday night, as each guard drained four threes on their way to 26 and 21 points respectively. This was the second game in a row that Brown missed since suffering a left ankle injury in last weeks loss at the hands of Virginia.

Despite having five players in double figures – led by Richard Howell’s 23 points – as well as a 53-percent shooting night from the field, it’s awfully difficult to give up 98 points and have a chance at winning, and the struggling Wolfpack proved that against the team they upset just a couple of weeks ago.

As deflating as it must be for the preseason favorites to find themselves in this horrible slump, not to mention now seventh in the ACC, it must be encouraging for NC State to have been able to click on the offensive end without their catalyst Brown.

At least they don’t have to play Miami or Duke again until the ACC Tournament.

For hoops, hip-hop and other random sports and pop culture commentary, follow Jared Mintz on Twitter @JaredMintzTruth

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