Skip to main content

The roles were reversed Monday when NC State took on Duke in a rematch of what was by far the Wolfpack's best performance of the season -- an 88-66 drubbing of the then-sixth ranked Blue Devils at PNC Arena on Feb. 19.

This time it was Duke that played with more "verve" -- to steal a word from its coach Mike Krzyzewski. -- dominating the boards, stifling the Wolfpack's offense by switching to a zone defense and running away in the second half (literally) for an equally lopsided 88-69 win at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Here's what State coach Kevin Keatts had to say about the disappointing result during his postgame press conference:

"I thought Duke did a tremendous job in Round Two. I say Round Two because obviously it was a little bit different than two weeks ago when we played in Raleigh. I thought the first half was really good. We did a great job of establishing ourselves, especially on the defensive end, in the first half. In the second half, when we stopped making shots is when we stopped doing the little things.

"I thought they had all of the winning plays in the second half. When you look at us, it’s going to be hard for us to beat anyone in this conference, especially a team like Duke on their home floor, when you give up 16 offensive rebounds. They had 25 points in transition. When we did score, we didn’t get back. We did a poor job of blocking out. That’s something that we’ve got to get better at. In our games that we win, we do a great job in that area.

"I thought the first time we played Duke we out-rebounded them 51-43, and they completely out-rebounded us tonight. We’ll move on. Congratulate those guys. I thought they had a great bounce back game. They did a great job." 

State actually played well for the first 24 minutes of the game. But everything changed when Duke switched to its zone. It was a move, Keatts said, that affected his team more on the defensive end than on offense:

"I thought the zone was effective in a way. It made us play through our post guys in the middle because they extended out a little. The shot that they gave up was more of a middle shot. I’m okay with Jericole (Hellems) and how he played there. He did a good job (tying for team-high scoring honors with 14 points).

"I thought we beat them off a lot of ball screens in the first half because of the fact that Markell Johnson was very good off ball screens and took it to the hole. That being said, we had our opportunities. We had some great looks. For whatever reason, we just didn’t knock them down tonight."

 Keatts was asked if he thought his team missed an opportunity to take control of the game early when Duke missed 12 of its first 13 field goal attempts:

"I don’t feel like we missed an opportunity. I feel like we should have had the last shot of the first half. There was a two-second differential between the shot clock and the game clock and we took a boneheaded shot with nine seconds left, which led to an easy basket on the other end. I thought the momentum shifted towards the half. 

"I know Duke started off missing the first 12 of 13. That being said, we weren’t on fire ourselves. We didn’t make a lot of shots. It was a great first half. It was a great start of the second half, the first seven or eight minutes. We stopped doing the little things. We stopped defending. We stopped doing the things that got us the lead early in the game." 

If there was any good news to come out of Monday's loss, other than that it made State's earlier win against the Blue Devils look a lot better, it's that C.J. Bryce didn't seem to have any lasting injury from the shot he took to the head from Duke's Tre Jones late in the game:

"I think he just took an elbow. I think he’ll be fine. I haven’t talked to the trainers. I think he was okay after the game. I think as he drove, his hand flipped and hit him. 

"We’ve had three (concussions this season). I’m always concerned about anytime a guy gets hit up here. I’m hopeful that he’s okay. I don’t have anything to say that he’s not."

Keatts said he thought the key to Duke's decisive second half turnaround was its ability to dominante the glass, something State prevented in the earlier matchup:

"I thought we gave up so many offensive rebounds. Give Vernon Carey a lot of credit. He didn’t kill us on the offensive glass, but I told him he was the best player on the floor. He did a tremendous job. In Round One, we did a good job of getting back. Cassius Stanley and Wendell [Moore], neither one of those guys really got out in transition. We did the same thing in the first half.

"These guys were explosive in transition, especially in this building. I thought they were able to get out and get the crowd involved. That certainly worked against us. We’ve got to do a better job moving forward because obviously that’s not a great formula for success. If we don’t block out and we don’t value the possession and make winning plays down the stretch, then we’ll come out on the short end of the stick. We did tonight." 

While Duke's zone gave the Wolfpack fits, Keatts thought it was his own team's defensive issues that led to the Blue Devils' 25 fastbreak points.

"Not to take away from their zone, but I think it got better because of our frustration not making a few baskets. When you look around college basketball, it’s so funny how teams play defensively in transition when they’re scoring versus when they are not. We missed some shots and they got some runouts. We had a lack of communication, and that led to some easy baskets. I think Stanley had two of the best dunks he’s probably had all year. I shouldn’t say all year, that kid just dunks all the time."

Finally, Keatts was asked how quickly his team needed to flush this loss with an even more pivotal game against Wake Forest coming up on Friday:

"I don’t know about easy to flush. We had a great opportunity to come in here and beat a good team on their home floor, so I don’t flush any loss. I don’t. My kids may be over it in about three or four hours. I’m going to watch the game film again. I’m going to do it to myself again. 

"We’ve got to get better. The winning plays are what we didn’t make. I don’t want to say what we didn’t do opposed to what Duke did. They did a tremendous job getting to the glass, getting out in transition and scoring. Give those guys a lot of credit. They bounced back. I’m sure after losing a couple games and the way we played in Raleigh, they came back and they were more hungry and more focused. They wanted the game and they got it."