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January 20, 2007

Blue Devils rout Pack in Raleigh

Another tremendous defensive effort and a near perfectly balanced offensive performance carried Duke to its third straight ACC blowout victory as the Blue Devils trounced NC State 79-56 at the RBC Center in Raleigh Saturday afternoon.

Five Blue Devils reached double figures in the victory, but it was Duke's defense that again dominated in the early stages of the game.

NC State, playing without injured guard Engin Atsur, struggled against Duke's hard nosed man-to-man that the Blue Devils occasionally extended full court to make the Wolfpack handle pressure without a natural point guard on the floor.

The result was 16 first half turnovers by the Wolfpack that Duke turned into 18 points on the offensive end and the Blue Devils held a 41-25 halftime lead.

Offensively, Duke solved NC State's trapping 1-3-1 defense by breaking it down with crisp ball movement and dribble penetration, converting on a host of drives to the rim to build a first half lead that reached as many as 19 points during a late run.

After grabbing a 13 point lead at 27-14 with under eight minutes to go in the first half, NC State whittled the margin down to 30-22 at the four minute mark.

Duke answered that challenge though and embarked on an 11-0 run that put the Blue Devils up 41-22 before Gavin Grant's three pointer at the buzzer narrowed the gap slightly.

Any chances of a Wolfpack comeback were snuffed out early in the second half, even after NC State twice trimmed the lead to 13 points and once got it as low as 12 with 16:10 to go in the game.

Following a DeMarcus Nelson dunk on the other end that upped Duke's lead back to 14 points, the game shifted for good when the Wolfpack made a key mistake.

Courtney Fells found a lane to the rim down the baseline but missed his second dunk attempt of the game. Fells attempted to pull himself up on the rim to reach the ball and tip in his own miss, but he was whistled for a technical foul that ended any developing momentum.

Duke's Jon Scheyer knocked down the technical free throws to extend the lead to 16 points, and then Nelson and Scheyer buried back to back three pointers, the second coming from a David McClure steal in transition.

The result was a 56-34 Duke lead and a stunned RBC Center.

The Wolfpack never threatened again, as Duke continued to play well on the offensive end to keep NC State mired in a deep hole.

Josh McRoberts and Greg Paulus each had 13 points, while Scheyer led all players with 20.

Nelson's 13 point effort and McClure's 10 points accounted for the other double figure scorers in the final box score.

McClure and McRoberts spearheaded Duke's relentless defensive effort. Each player accounted for four steals and McRoberts added a pair of blocks and prevented NC State's Ben McCauley from developing any consistency on the offensive end.

In addition to McClure's effort off the bench, Gerald Henderson continued his recent good play with an eight point contribution, as the freshman easily beat NC State's defense to get multiple good looks near the rim, including one picturesque slam dunk to add to his growing highlight reel. Henderson also blocked a shot before fouling out in 18 minutes of action.

The win gave Duke a three game winning streak and pushed the Blue Devils over .500 in ACC play for the first time this year.

After starting the league slate 0-2, Duke has righted the ship with blowouts over Miami, Wake Forest, and NC State, and will now prepare for a brutal stretch of conference foes that begins Thursday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium against 19th ranked Clemson.


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