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January 20, 2007

No. 14 Duke drops NC State 79-56

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RALEIGH, N.C. -Freshman Jon Scheyer scored 20 points and DeMarcus Nelson added 15 as No. 14 Duke beat North Carolina State 79-56 on Saturday.

Josh McRoberts and Greg Paulus each finished with 13 points, while David McClure had 10 for the Blue Devils (16-3, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who have won three straight since suffering consecutive league losses to Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech.

Brandon Costner scored 20 for the Wolfpack (11-7, 1-4), who have lost three of their last four overall and 25 of 28 in the series.

It was another strong showing for Duke's youngsters, who have shaken off the Blue Devils' first 0-2 ACC start in more than a decade by relying on their always stingy defense. They held N.C. State to 34 percent shooting and forced 20 turnovers that led to 25 points.

Duke's offense looked fine, too, shooting 53 percent and maintaining a lead of about 20 points for much of the second half.

Duke was coming off an impressive defensive showing against Wake Forest less than two days earlier, holding the Demon Deacons to 40 points - their worst total in a half-century - in an easy home win.

Things didn't look much different against the Wolfpack, with the Blue Devils shutting down N.C. State in an ugly first half full of missed shots and turnovers for the home team.

N.C. State managed just seven field goals with 16 turnovers against Duke's aggressive defense. On the other end, the Blue Devils had little trouble getting the shots they wanted, repeatedly getting into the lane and taking a 41-25 lead at the break.

Gavin Grant came in averaging 16 points per game, but struggled for seven on 1-for-6 shooting while being chased much of the way by Nelson. Meanwhile, the 6-foot-10 McRoberts made things difficult inside for Ben McCauley, altering plenty of his shots and holding the Wolfpack's co-scoring leader at nearly 17 per game to nine on 2-for-8 shooting.

After the Wolfpack cut the deficit to 46-34 early after the break, Duke put the game away with a 10-0 spurt, keyed by Scheyer and Nelson as well as a mistake by N.C. State's Courtney Fells.

After Nelson started the run with a dunk, Fells went up for an easy putaway in the paint only to miss his second slam of the game. Fells was then called for a technical foul for trying to grab the ball while still holding onto the rim, allowing Scheyer to knock down two free throws for a 50-34 lead.

Nelson drained a 3-pointer from the left side on the next play, while Scheyer followed with his own 3 in front of the Duke bench off a turnover to make it 56-34 with 14:49 left.

This was hardly the way new Wolfpack coach Sidney Lowe wanted to debut in the rivalry that began in the 1911-12 season. The former Wolfpack player took over in the spring after Herb Sendek bolted for Arizona State amid fan frustration with N.C. State's motion offense and its inability to beat nearby ACC rivals Duke and North Carolina.

For more coverage of Duke, visit DevilsIllustrated.com; for more on NC State, visit Wolfpacker.com.

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