DURHAM — Mike Krzyzewski took a little longer than usual Saturday to get to his postgame press conference after the 95-60 win against N.C. State. He had a good reason for doing so.
“We had a pretty distinguished guest in the locker room,” Krzyzewski said, referring to George H.W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States. “That was really good.”
“Actually everything today was really good. Our team was outstanding.”
Duke’s 35-point margin of victory was its largest in ACC play since an 85-44 thrashing of Maryland on Jan. 24, 2009.
“The way Mike used their depth and their pressure defense affected our inexperience and our short bench. That was probably the biggest thing,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. “We turned the ball over too many times.”
The Wolfpack (11-7, 1-4) turned the ball over a season-high 21 times (14 of which were credited to Duke as steals), which the Blue Devils turned into 33 points (N.C. State only got two points off of eight turnovers).
For the second consecutive game, Krzyzewski used a deep bench, as 10 Blue Devils logged at least 12 minutes. The frequent rotations allowed Duke to use more full-court pressure on defense and inbounds plays – twice, N.C. State had to call timeout after failing to inbounds the ball.
“At the beginning of the season, what we really worked on was pushing the tempo and pressing and getting a lot of possessions in a game,” Andre Dawkins said. “We kind of started to get back to that. It’s a work in progress right now because we’ve been away from that for so long, but we’ve just got to keep working at it.”
Before Krzyzewski expanded his rotation, guys who were playing the majority of the game would pace themselves, Thornton said. Not an issue now with shorter shifts.
“We’d like to play more guys. It’s something we’ve learned over the first three ACC games,” Krzyzewski said. “The conference games take even more of a toll. Since we’re not this rugged team, it takes a bigger toll earlier. And we’re younger. One thing young players have to learn how to do is to beat tired. Veteran players can beat tired. In other words, you can be tired in a game and still function at a high level. That’s an amazing thing to learn.”
N.C. State started well, with eight of its first 13 points coming from offensive rebounds (the game was tied at 13 at that point) and it took Duke seven minutes (until the 12:58 mark) to pull down its first rebound. N.C. State’s size advantage, though, was neutralized the rest of the way – Duke grabbed 14 offensive boards (66.7 percent of the available rebounds at that end), compared to the Wolfpack’s 11 – 52.5 percent of the rebounds on their glass.
State’s post players also struggled to defend away from the basket.
“(Jordan) Vandenberg’s not the most agile guy, and then BeeJay (Anya) isn’t either,” Gottfried said, “so when they’re involved in ball screens, it just makes the game really hard for us to defend.”
Gottfried also said his point guards – Cat Barber and Tyler Lewis – need to demand the ball more and guard it better on defense.
“I thought they smelled blood in the water and went after it,” Gottfried said of Duke.
It was a nice next step for Duke after potentially turning its season around with the tight win against Virginia. Even in that game, though, the Blue Devils gave up a 13-1 run in the final minutes and lost the lead with 38 seconds to play (they did come back to win). This time, Duke was able to dominate, turning a 13-point lead at halftime into a 35-point romp.
Krzyzewski was pleased afterwards, calling it the Blue Devils’ best performance of the season. Once he was done fielding questions about the game, he offered an unsolicited thanks to President Bush for coming, as he was in town to thank Krzyzewski for his commitment and leadership in working toward eliminating cancer as a public health threat. It’s a more personal cause to Krzyzewski now, he said, after his brother’s Dec. 26 death.
“Anyway, I publicly want to thank President Bush for being here,” Krzyzewski said. “He brought us good luck. I asked him what is he doing on Wednesday, if I wanted to come to Miami. I don’t think he’s coming. We’re going to have to do it on our own.”
Video: Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s post-game comments
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