Friday, February 01, 2008

Duke 55, NC State 26

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

Duke won the game with the most impressive half of offense we're likely to see all season. Duke scored 55 points in just 31 possessions, for an astounding 177.42 offensive rating. 21 of the 31 possessions ended in a made field goal, with an additional 3 possessions ending with Duke converting 2-for-2 at the stripe. The Devils shot an excellent .766efg%, and when they did miss, they got the ball right back, gathering up 10 of the 13 misses. NC State's offense in the second half wasn't terrible, although they turned the ball over too much and missed some free throws. But there was just no keeping up with the Devils in the second half - Duke's offense clicked in a way it hasn't since JJ Redick last played Texas.

NC State took the lead in the first half by doing all the things it had not been able to do all season long. They kept Duke off the offensive glass (and picked up some offensive boards of their own). They forced turnovers. They hit threes. And they scored points - 46 in a half for a team that averages in the 60s. But when the second half started, it was back to the old habits - no rebounding, no takeaways, no threes, and generosity in returning the ball to Duke. In the second half, the Devils were +14 in attempts, +12 in makes, +21 in points from 3, +5 in turnovers, and +12 on the glass (+6 on each end). All those pluses added up to a second half rout, and another disappointing performance for the Pack.

Greg Paulus kept himself on the floor last night with his best game of the season, exploding for 22 points with 6 assists, no turnovers, and three steals. Coach K didn't mess around too much with the lineup in the second half - only 7 lineup changes over the course of the half. He likely didn't want to mess with the offensive chemistry and momentum his starting lineup was showing, and it certainly worked. It was as little as Duke has used the bench all season, but it was also the right call - last night the depth was not needed.

Duke has a quick turnaround with a 3:30 et Saturday tilt against Miami before The Rivalry next week. After seeing the relative ease with which both Duke and UNC dispatched their foes tonight, it doesn't look like either team is looking ahead. But Duke/UNC is now just 6 days away, and I'm positively giddy - the way both teams have played so far this season, the rivalry matchups should be classics.

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