DURHAM — For the second time in eight days, N.C. State lost an ACC game by at least 30 points.
The Wolfpack’s 95-60 loss at Duke on Saturday afternoon left third-year coach Mark Gottfried with little choice but to praise the Blue Devils and wonder about the state of his own team.
“It ain’t fun,” Gottfried said. “Our group of guys — regardless if we’re young, old, all those things — we have to figure it out.
“We have to get better and we have another opportunity on Monday with Maryland coming in.”
The Wolfpack (11-7) fell to 1-4 in the ACC after committing a season-high 21 turnovers and getting outscored 33-6 behind the 3-point line.
Combined with a 76-45 home loss to Virginia on Jan. 11, the Pack now has two 30-point ACC losses in the regular season for the first time since 1993-94.
It’s the first time any ACC team has had two 30-point losses in conference play in the same season since Clemson did it in 2004-05.
The Wolfpack stayed in the game through the first 8 minutes, with a strong start by freshman forward Kyle Washington (eight points, five rebounds) and sophomore forward T.J. Warren, who finished with 23 points.
Warren’s 3-pointer at 12:17 cut Duke’s lead to 17-16. But Duke turned up the pressure, especially on freshman guard Cat Barber, and the Blue Devils took over the game.
Duke freshman forward Jabari Parker punctuated a 20-6 run with a dunk over Jordan Vandenberg with 5:25 left in the first half, which effectively put the game away.
The Wolfpack turned the ball over 15 times in the first half and dug a 45-32 hole.
“We couldn’t take care of the ball,” Warren said.
Duke finished the game with 33 points off turnovers, compared to two for the Wolfpack. Barber finished with four turnovers in 31 minutes and fellow guard Desmond Lee finished with four in 28 minutes.
Barber has struggled in ACC play with his shot (12 of 46 from the floor) and turnovers (11 in five games).
“He’s got to play better,” Gottfried “It’s not just him. He needs to handle the ball better and get us into our offense.”
Gottfried used sophomore guard Tyler Lewis, who has been sick all week, for 15 minutes but Lewis wasn’t 100 percent, Gottfried said.
“We turned the ball over too many times,” Gottfried said. “They took turnovers and turned them into baskets. We have to learn how to handle pressure.”
N.C. State cut down on its turnovers in the second half, only six, but still struggled on the defensive end. Duke scored 50 points in the second half.
Gottfried said his post defenders struggled with ball screens and his guards had trouble stopping the dribble.
“We have to have more energy on the defensive end,” Warren said. “We have to have the will to stop them.”
N.C. State also was missing freshman forward Lennard Freeman, who sprained his left ankle in practice on Friday. Combine the personnel issues with Duke’s best game of the year, according to coach Mike Krzyzewski, and the result was a rout.
The Wolfpack doesn’t have too much time to dwell on it, though. It opens a three-game homestand on Monday night with Maryland.
“We have to get back in the gym and get ready to play on Monday,” Warren said.