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January 31, 2008

Wolfpack face measuring stick tonight

The North Carolina State has never faced a team where all five players can hit 3-pointers.

NC State is expecting a barrage of 3-pointers tonight when the Wolfpack play No. 3-ranked Duke at 9 p.m. at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Duke features seven players who have attempted 28 or more 3-pointers this season, led by freshman power forward Taylor King, who is 37 of 85, and junior point guard Greg Paulus, who is 32 of 79.

Wings DeMarcus Nelson and Gerald Henderson, backup point guard Nolan Smith and center/power forward Kyle Singler are all capable from long range. The Blue Devils are 158 for 412 on 3-point field goals this year. In comparison, the Wolfpack are 98 of 296 on 3-pointers.

Forwards Lance Thomas and David McClure are the only healthy Duke players who aren't threats from beyond the arc.

"I think communication is going to be a big key in terms of the transition, transition defense because you have Singler who can trail the play and stop at the three and shoot it," NC State coach Sidney Lowe said. "You have Nelson who might be playing four who's trailing. He can stop at the three where a lot of times big guys they're accustomed to running to the paint first not realizing that the guys that they are guarding tomorrow can stop at the three. So communication and making sure that we get matched up is going to be big in our transition defense."

NC State freshman center J.J. Hickson and junior power forward Ben McCauley will both be forced to play out of their comfort zone on defense. The Wolfpack got a tune-up on playing small ball against Florida State, and Lowe didn't hesitate in playing bigger lineups, sometimes with four players on the court 6-foot-8 or taller.

"In the halfcourt sets, again we have to talk and be active and be aggressive and understand the personnel of who we are playing against," Lowe said. "There are going to be times where McCauley and Hickson, they are going to guard a smaller player. We are going to have to keep them in front and not give them options."

With Duke dedicated to playing a drive and kick offensive game, Lowe hopes his bigger players wear down the Blue Devils defense.

"You have to be strong with it because they are switching all the time," Lowe said. "But yeah we have to certainly look to go there, and be patient if it's not there right away. We got to move the ball around, swing it and just be strong it, and again don't turn it over."

Duke preview

NC State 2007-2008 roster

Duke roster

Duke schedule/results

Game facts

ACC - North Carolina State (13-6, 2-3 ACC) at No. 3 Duke (17-1, 5-0 ACC)

Game time: Thursday, Jan. 31, 9 p.m. - Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, N.C.

Television: Raycom/ESPN2

Probable starters

NC State

PG - 13 Marques Johnson (6-5, Soph., 2.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 1.3 apg)
SG - 4 Courtney Fells (6-5, Jr., 11.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.1 apg)
SF - 11 Gavin Grant (6-8, Sr., 13.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.1 apg)
PF - 34 Ben McCauley (6-10, Jr., 5.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.5 apg)
C - 1 J.J. Hickson (6-9, Fr., 15.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.7 bpg)

Duke

PG - 3 Greg Paulus (6-1, Jr., 9.3 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 3.4 apg)
SG - 21 DeMarcus Nelson (6-4, Sr., 14.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.6 spg)
SF - 15 Gerald Henderson (6-4, Soph., 13.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.7 apg)
PF - 14 David McClure (6-6, Jr., 1.1 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 0.4 apg)
C - 12 Kyle Singler (6-8, Fr., 12.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.3 apg)

Scouting Duke

Location: Durham, N.C.

Nickname: Blue Devils

2006-2007 record: 22-11, 8-8 ACC

2007 postseason: Lost 79-77 to Virginia Commonwealth in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Coach: Mike Krzyzewski, 719-203 in 28 years at Duke, 792-262 in 32 years overall

The all-time series with NC State: Duke leads 132-96.

Last meeting: NC State won 85-80 in the ACC Tournament on March 8, 2007.

Notes

Duke: The Blue Devils have formed a quality bench after moving shooting guard Jon Scheyer to the sixth man role after he started at shooting guard last year. He is averaging 12.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game, shooting 48.5 percent from the field. Freshmen Taylor King and Nolan Smith, a power forward and point guard respectively, have combined for 15.5 points a game ... Duke's lone loss was 65-64 to Pittsburgh in overtime at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Dec. 20. The Blue Devils shot 4 for 19 from 3-point range and 23 of 61 overall ... Duke leaves the state twice for its remaining 12 regular season games.

NC State: The series is the second-longest in Wolfpack history, dating back to the 1911-1912 season, and this year is the first time the two schools will have played each other twice since the ACC expanded ... Grant scored 13 points in 25 minutes the last time the Wolfpack played at Cameron Indoor Stadium during the 2005-2006 season. Grant is the only player to play at Cameron, with juniors McCauley and Fells both making the trip, but not playing ... Sixth man Brandon Costner scored 30 points on 10 of 17 shooting and 10 of 11 from the free-throw line when NC State upset Duke in the ACC Tournament.


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