Friday, January 23, 2009

Duke 51, NC State 30

What's that you say? The score above is incorrect? There was a first half to this game? Bah!

The similarities between last season's game against the Pack in Cameron and Tuesday's tilt were eerie. Like last year, the first half was sputtering, and the second half was offensive dominance. This year, Duke scored on 22 of 31 second half possessions (including 12 of the last 14), missing just 6 shots from the field in the half. The Devils also committed just 4 second half turnovers, and just 2 in the last 25 possessions. It was an excellent offensive performance, and the first time in conference play Duke has put together a 20 minute stretch of good offense.

In a way, this was a game of bookends. Duke won the beginning and end of the game by a total of 25-4, amassed over 21 possessions (during which State committed 10 of their 19 turnovers). If you extend that just a bit to cover the first half of the first half and the second half of the second half, it's a slightly less impressive but still dominant 42-18. Which means, of course, that in the middle 20 minutes, NCSU outplayed Duke to the tune of 38-31.

Duke's defense was again strong (although not great). They forced a lot of turnovers - nearly one every three possessions. It took almost 2:30 minutes before the Pack even got off a shot. But the defensive rebounding was again poor (just 50%) and the poor rebounding contributed to NCSU hitting over 50% of their 2s, an unusual performance against the Devils this year.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the small lineup collectively posted almost all the + results for Duke's +/-. Singler was never the biggest guy on the court until he subbed in for Lance with 12:30 to go and Duke down 2. From that point on, Kyle played "center" exclusively and Duke went on a 30-11 run to close out the game. I'm not sure if that's meaningful, but against certain teams, it's clear that K likes the McClure-Singler frontcourt combo. That combo clearly has its weaknesses, though - NCSU got 8 of 12 available offensive rebounds over the last 12:30. Actually, the presence (or lack thereof) of Zoubek on the court dictated how well State rebounded. When he was in, Duke got 7 of 19 offensive rebounds and 9 of 11 defensive rebounds. When he was out, those numbers were 3 of 12 and a shockingly poor 6 of 19. Z only picked up 4 defensive rebounds on the game, but clearly the presence of a 7 footer made it harder for the Pack to crash the boards.

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