Matt Jones (12.7 ppg, 2.5 apg) vs. Cat Barber (22.3 ppg, 4.8 apg)
Barber has been excellent for N.C. State this season, and leads the ACC in scoring but he has struggled in four career games against the Blue Devils. The junior point guard has averaged 5.7 points against Duke with 12 assists and 11 turnovers.
Those were all deeper Duke teams, who had the ability to harass Barber into ball-handling mistakes.
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Jones is Duke’s best defender and was the Blue Devils’ best 3-point shooter before league play began. Outside the ACC, Jones made 45.5 percent of his 3s. In the ACC, Jones is making just 28.2 percent of his 3s.
Barber has the quickness to be a standout defender but has a tendency to relax on defense to save himself for the offensive end.
Grayson Allen (20.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg) vs. Cody Martin (5.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg)
Allen, Duke’s Final Four hero a year ago, has been consistent and Duke’s best all-around player. He has had some hiccups against bigger teams (Kentucky and Utah) and N.C. State could cause some problems on that front if BeeJay Anya is on his game.
Martin has added some juice to N.C. State’s starting lineup the past two games. He hustles, shares the ball and gets after it on defense. He was able to lock down Pitt’s Jamel Artis on Tuesday.
Duke likes to spread the floor and take defenders off the dribble. Allen does not have an advantage over the tenacious Martin in that setting.
Luke Kennard (12.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg) vs. Maverick Rowan (13.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg)
Your classic shooter vs. shooter matchup, although Kennard is more inclined to go to the basket in the same four-out spread that gives Allen room to drive.
Rowan is coming off his best game of the season, with four 3-pointers in Tuesday’s win at Pitt.
Rowan’s lack of foot speed is an issue on defense for N.C. State. Kennard is not a superior athlete but given Mike Krzyzewski’s propensity to identify and attack a weakness, don’t be surprised if Duke goes right at Rowan.
Brandon Ingram (16.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg) vs. Lennard Freeman (4.4 ppg, 6.9 rpg)
N.C. State spent a lot of time pursuing Ingram on the recruiting trail and with his rapid development after a slow start, it’s easy to see why.
With the ball, Ingram will cause problems for either Freeman, a rebounding specialist, or Caleb Martin.
On defense, Ingram is giving up a significant amount of weight if State goes big and gets Ingram in a one-on-one situation in the post.
As N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried loves to say, “They’ve got to guard us, too, pal!”
Marshall Plumlee (8.2 ppg, 7.9 rpg) vs. Abdul-Malik Abu (11.9 ppg, 8.7 rpg)
Plumlee shredded N.C. State in the ACC tournament last year and has put together the best stretch of his career since Jefferson has been sidelined.
But Abu is coming into his own and starting to take ownership of this N.C. State team. Physical talent doesn’t always win out but Abu has combined supreme effort with a wealth of physical tools to play his best basketball the past two weeks.
Edge: N.C. State
Probably the only time in ACC play N.C. State will have more options. Duke uses freshman point guard Derryck Thornton (8.5 ppg) for 25 minutes per game.
Thornton’s best basketball is still in front of him but he has struggled to make an impact this season.
The Wolfpack has sophomore guard Caleb Martin and junior forward BeeJay Anya coming off the bench. Martin (11.1 ppg) started the season on a hot streak but hit a shooting slump that bottomed out in a 2-of-13 effort in a home loss to Florida State on Jan. 13.
Anya had the best game of his college career in last year’s home win over Duke. Anya outplayed ACC player of the year Jahlil Okafor with 14 points, six rebounds and four blocks.
Edge: N.C. State
No. 20 Duke at N.C. State
When: 2 p.m. Saturday
Where: PNC Arena, Raleigh
TV/Radio: WRAL, 101.5-WRAL, 620-WDNC