Wow, again? Really? Well that’s what I get for doubting this teamâ€¦.again.
Duke was able, once again, to claw it’s way back from a seemingly insurmountable lead to pull it out against N.C. State 78-73.Â In a game where a slow start could hardly be afforded, but per Duke’s modus operandi, that is exactly what happened. It was a garbage half of basketball for the Devils who went in at the half down by 16 points. No one played particularly well, Duke was failing on all fronts. Duke shot poorly from 2 and 3, missed critical free throws. Defensively the Devils were bad as well. The only promising note for Duke going into halftime was the N.C. State foul trouble, it signaled to Duke that it was time to be aggressive.
Not able to put a body on and box out the N.C. State big men was a problem for the Devils who were not able to recycle possessions which is a must for a team that is shooting poorly, queue last championship year. It was the kind of half where as a Coach I’m sure its frustrating because he’s had this talk before. The difference is the last two times Duke has given teams this kindÂ of lead they have rallied and pulled it out.
The beginning of the second have Duke was able to muster a run here and there but could never sustain the momentum. Runs are not runs if they only happen on one end of the court and this team is slowly learning that. Duke was able to chip away, once the lead got to 20, by sustained defensive effort, forcing turnovers and finally heating up from the field. Seth Curry, instead of parking behind the 3 point arc drove his man to the basket. Curry scored a career high 26 in the win hitting 3 timely 3 Duke needed runs of 13-0 and 20-3 to get themselves in a position to win the game and you knew the three coming off of Rivers hands with Duke down by 2 was going in. Say what you will about the freshman, he does not mind being the guy. He is going to fight until the fight is done.
NC State was paced by Lorenzo Brown who scored 19 points in the game and dished out 2 assists. C.J. Leslie had a good “hand’ in Dukes horrific shooting, Leslie was able to use his athleticism to change shots even when he wasn’t collecting 1 of his 6 blocked shots.
Looking at the numbers, its really hard to see where N.C. State went wrong, they out-rebounded, and out-shot Duke. They also had more assists and showed that they are a team to be reckoned with going forward, clearly the game play was working but a few turnovers and missed rebounds here and there and Duke was able to manufacture runs and confidence.
Despite the comedy of errors in the first half Duke only committed 5 turnovers to 11 assists. Had that turnover stat been any higher Duke is staring at it’s third ACC loss at home.
QUOTES (per GoDuke.com)
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski:
â€œThat was an amazing win. They thoroughly outplayed us for about 29 minutes and then we thoroughly outplayed them for 11.They were really good, and we were great in the last 11 minutes. It was really one of the more amazing games that Iâ€™ve been a part of. I thought our fans were terrific. They never let us die, I thought it was one of those games in Cameron where the fans and the players were one, and I think that was a huge part of the basketball game. Seth [Curry] was incredible, they had a hard time defending him on the wing, and he was really strong with the ball, everyone thinks of him as a shooter, but he was really strong with the ball and made plays. He [Seth Curry] and Austin [Austin], we had a couple of things that kept working and we used our timeouts judiciously instead of four minute segments kind of going in two minute segments, but not to take full time outs, just to keep the momentum, but get squared away. We got it down to one possession with under five minutes and I think we called a timeout just to tell our guys donâ€™t press anymore, just play solid defense just so we wouldnâ€™t foul them. Weâ€™ve had a team thatâ€™s played so hard for six and a half, seven minutes like that, our kids were able to go to another mode and they did that. They came out of timeouts really, really well. Itâ€™s really a special win, wow, special win. Itâ€™s tough to say anything else.â€
On C.J. Leslie, Richard Howard and C.J. Williamsâ€™ foul trouble
â€œWe were all in foul trouble. I donâ€™t think it had anything to do with foul trouble. We were all in foul trouble. I thought it had to do a lot with heart and fight. You can do whatever you want to do with it. Iâ€™ll stick with heart and fight. â€œ
On being concerned about falling behind in games
â€œNo, no, no. You know what is a concern for me today? A celebration of a great win. Whatever string of things happened, we are 22-4, weâ€™ve been in the top five of the RPI all year, and weâ€™re not a perfect team, but weâ€™re a good team. And weâ€™re a team that has fought and instead of talking about inconsistencies and starts and struggles and all of that weâ€™re 22-4 and we got some kids that really fought their butts off and gave us one of the incredible wins.â€
On whether their fight as a better quality of the team
â€œYea, I think, there is still something about being at home. We just got through with an incredible week. I think State was fresher than we were. Theyâ€™ve been off for a week and boom they came at us. During this time of year, itâ€™s been a long year that started in July, getting ready to go to China and Dubai and overall we have kept fairly fresh. Some teams hit a wall, and we havenâ€™t hit a wall, we may have run into it, but we find some door that opens and figure out a way to win. Hopefully we can get our team fresh before March.â€
On Seth Curryâ€™s injury
â€œI think it was a heroic performance by Seth because when he went out I thought he was gone, and Jose [Fonseca], our trainer, was just telling me that Seth said, â€˜Man, I donâ€™t know if I can go,â€™ and Jose said, â€˜You have to go,â€™ and Seth said, â€˜It hurts,â€™ and Jose said, â€˜Iâ€™ll give you a shot.â€™ He only had five points at half time and he scored 21 in the second half. I mean thank goodness Jose helped him. That was a heroic performance by Seth. Weâ€™ll see where he is tomorrow before Boston College. We go up there Saturday after practice.
On denying the ball to Scott Wood
â€œWell we tried to make [Scott] Wood work, we fouled him a couple of times, heâ€™s such a great shooter, especially down the stretch except for that last foul. I thought we did a great job on him and it was Tyler [Thornton] and Andre [Dawkins]. Andre should know those routes, those are routes he takes. And Andre shot a big three in the corner.â€
On Andre Dawkins getting some tough rebounds
â€œWell that one and he got two free throws from it and hopefully that shows him that he can do more than just shoot the ball.â€
On team being more of an offensive team
â€œWell weâ€™ve played good defense in the conference. Weâ€™re not a great defensive team, but for portions of the game we play great defense. And in the last 11 and half minutes we played really good defense. Itâ€™s just not a defense that causes a ton of turnovers although it forced a couple today. Weâ€™re just not that team. But I think they only shot low 30â€™s in the second half, and if we can get a half like that against a team and we shot our normal stuff than we have a chance to win.â€
On Austin Riversâ€™s confidence and clutch plays
â€œThe kidâ€™s got a special quality. He wants to be in the moments and weâ€™re going to put him in those situations and sink or swim. Weâ€™re swimming right now but he deserves to have the ball then. He and Seth just needed to get the ball. There was some great basketball there, itâ€™s not like they were easy shots, and they really had to fight through it, incredible win. It was an incredible win.â€
On first half shots being quality shots that didnâ€™t drop
â€œNo, it was more their defense. They blocked a lot of shots early and we started looking for the block. I thought they played a great first half and their defense was quick and we didnâ€™t get a lot of easy looks, although we did miss three dunks in the game, crazy. It was just a crazy game.â€
Junior Ryan Kelly:
â€œBeing down 20 at home is tough, but when we got into a situation where we got some stops and we got it rolling a little bit, especially when youâ€™re at home and have the crowd behind you, you can keep it rolling for a lot longer than if you were on the road. We were capable of doing that, and we used the clock well, and had enough time to score enough points and get the win.â€
â€œI think with our full court pressure, we either got the ball out of [Lorenzo Brownâ€™s] hands, which caused some problems for their offense, or we made them work in the full court. If you do that, youâ€™re going to out a little bit no matter what, especially by the end of the game, and he plays a lot of minutes. Thatâ€™s something we did really well, and we made it hard for him to initiate the offense.â€
â€œThey were doing their best to manage the clock, just like we had to manage the clock being down. Our defense had to step out and pressure in the full court and it worked. We played great for those 11.5 minutes. If we can do that for 40 minutes, I donâ€™t know how high the limit for this team could be.â€
Junior Seth Curry:
â€œI could tell early in the game that their mentality was to take away the three point line no matter what. I thought I had matchups where I could take them off the dribble, and I did just that.â€
On injuring his ankle in the first minute of the game:
â€œThat kind of threw me off. I came back into the game, and it took me a while to get back into it, but I was able to do it. I just got it taped up a little bit tighter. I think I came down on somebodyâ€™s foot when I went up to grab the ball.â€
On what Duke did to overcome the 20-point second half deficit:
â€œWe were just trying to push the ball and get a fast tempo. Every time we got a stop and a rebound, we were trying to push it up and just attack the paint, get to the free throw line, and get good shots off. The biggest thing was that we tried to do was to get stops, because they were scoring in our paint a lot.â€
â€œ[This win is] big. Weâ€™re in a race for the championship of our conference, and weâ€™ve got to win at home to do that. It wouldâ€™ve hurt a lot if we had lost this game.â€
Freshman Austin Rivers:
â€œWhen we made that run I could feel it. I could just feel it. I felt confident. I love those games. I love those situations. Itâ€™s a tie game, two minutes left â€“ thatâ€™s what you play basketball for, and I think thatâ€™s what a lot of guys on our team love to do, and I think thatâ€™s why we won this game.â€
â€œThey played well. Guys got to the foul line and still made plays. But when a team comes back from 20 and youâ€™re in a tie game with two minutes left, itâ€™s just kind of a frantic mode. Itâ€™s just human. I think guys [for Duke] were just buying in. I think thatâ€™s the biggest thing â€“ everybody bought in. Nobody complained about what plays were called or anything. We kept running pick-and-rolls, just switching off, Seth [Curry] and I just going up top. I was just trying to attack and make some kicks. Seth [Curry] made some big shots, and Ryan [Kelly] hit some big shots. Everybody hit free throws, and Mason [Plumlee] was a beast on the boards in the second half.â€
â€œ[This win shows] that we have pride and that we need to not do this again. Iâ€™m tired of doing this. This is a great win but weâ€™re exhausted. This is a weird win for us. Iâ€™m so proud and everybodyâ€™s so proud, but at the same time, we need to stop doing this. We really need to stop doing this. [NC State] played well though and they hit shots. But [for Duke] to be down 20 in Cameron â€“ it should never happen.â€
NC State head coach Mark Gottfried:
â€œWell, I would say a tough night for us, a tough finish. We have to be better late in the game. I thought probably, if you look at it for us, I thought our foul trouble really strapped us and made it difficult. We lost our aggressiveness when we got so many guys in foul trouble. That hurt. We have to do a better job at defending without fouling. We got to do a better job at executing our offense. They made big shots. Give them credit. I thought our kids battled pretty hard. You have to give them credit for making a lot of big shots and tough shots in the last 10 minutes of the game. Hats off to them. Weâ€™re a good team. We got to find a way to become a little bit better. We just got to get over the hump. I think we take another step at that point.â€
On what his team did that made them so dominant in the first half of the game:
â€œI thought we were very aggressive. We were aggressive when we set screens. They were aggressive defensively. I thought when we got Richard [Howell], Calvin [C.J. Leslie] and C.J. Williams, and those three guys had four fouls, we just became really tentative. Our guys came off the bench and did a nice job. DeShawn [Painter] played well. Alex [Johnson] did well, but we are like any team. Weâ€™d like to have those guys that start the game in there. We just got tentative, and it started to affect both ends of the floor. We werenâ€™t exciting as good offensively, and I thought defensively, even like on the ball screens, we defended ball screens. Our bigs were so cautious. I thought that probably hurt us more than anything.
On the team being upbeat and optimistic:
â€œI am proud of my team. We came in here and we proved that we are good team. We proved that. Weâ€™ve done that throughout the year, and we did that tonight. We are not going to hang our head. Iâ€™m not going to let my players hang their head. We are going to hold our heads high. We are going to get ourselves ready for the next game. You know if you are fortunate enough to be a tournament team, you got to play Thursday and Saturday, or you have to play in the tournament Friday and Sunday. So we have to do the same thing. We are going to get better. I believe we are. We are close but we are not there. We are going to bounce back.â€
On if this was the best first half they have played all season:
â€œI never really think about it. That is such a big picture question. I think we played well at times. We did a lot of things well. We executed well. We took advantage of their pressure at times. We got some really good backcourt looks. I thought Calvin [C.J. Leslie] was just sensational until he got in foul trouble. The game changed for him when he was in foul trouble. You know we played at Stanfod earlier this year. He got out of the game with ten minutes to go with cramps. He played out there and I hate it for him. We were really good at times, but we werenâ€™t good the last ten. Thatâ€™s on me. Thatâ€™s on us. We got to get better.â€
On if he thought about calling a timeout on the last possession:
â€œWell we had the long break before that, so we had already set up what we were going to do. We were 100 percent organized. We wanted Scott [Wood] to come off of some screens. They did a nice job defending them. That wasnâ€™t necessarily the shot we wanted but give Duke credit. They kept Scott from running off the screens.â€
On if Dukeâ€™s full court pressure disrupted their offense:
â€œIt might have. I donâ€™t know. As soon as you are ahead, you are going get pressed the entire game. The press is coming for the rest of the game. I thought the story of the game, again I am not knocking the officiating, but it was our foul trouble. We have to defend better without fouling, but when we got into foul trouble and so much of it, we are a team thatâ€™s been playing seven guys. It affected every part of the game for us. Thatâ€™s where we have to get better. We have to be a better defensive team without fouling. I thought that really changed the last 10 minutes.â€