Game time: 7 p.m., Monday. Site: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham. Spread: Duke opened as a 16-point favorite. Series: Duke leads, 146-99, Duke won all three meetings last season.
TV: ESPN. Radio: WRAL-150, WDNC-620; SiriusXM channel 81. Internet: ESPN3.com, WatchESPN app.
1) Forget history
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N.C. State has lost 17 straight at Duke and by an average margin of 17.6 points. Only four of the losses have been by single digits, although two have been under coach Mark Gottfried’s watch (78-73 in 2012 and 88-80 last year).
Since the ACC expanded before the 2004-05 season, and basically ended any semblance of a rivalry between the two schools, Duke has won 17 of the past 21 games.
The two teams only meet in Durham this season which is actually bad for Duke. In each of the Blue Devils’ last two national championship seasons, they have lost in Raleigh (88-74 in 2010 and 87-75 in 2015). Actually, Mike Krzyzewski’s first championship team, in 1990-91, lost in Raleigh, too.
Speaking of Krzyzewski, the last time N.C. State won at Cameron was when the hall-of-fame coach was out during the 1994-95 season with a back injury and exhaustion. Krzyzewski is expected to miss Monday’s game while recovering from recent back surgery. Les Robinson led the Wolfpack to a 77-60 win over Pete Gaudet’s Devils on Jan. 18, 1995 for the Wolfpack’s last win in Durham.
2) Don’t be overwhelmed
N.C. State turtled in the opening minutes at North Carolina on Jan. 8 and never got out of its shell in a 107-51 loss. Freshman guard Dennis Smith Jr. got into early foul trouble at UNC and the team was never able to be competitive.
After being completely embarrassed in Chapel Hill, the Wolfpack should be motivated in their second Triangle road game. Smith is one of the few recruits in the past 30 years to actually turn down Duke and pick N.C. State. How he handles the pressure of Cameron will be telling for the Wolfpack’s chances for an upset.
It will also be interesting to see if interim coach Jeff Capel sticks with the hot hand and goes with the lineup that led to the comeback against Miami on Saturday night or if he goes back to offensive stalwarts Grayson Allen and Luke Kennard.
Kennard, in particular, was outstanding against the Wolfpack last season with 26 points in the Duke win in Durham and 22 in the ACC tournament win in Washington. Kennard is the team’s leading scorer this season but was a role player last year. It was fascinating to see Krzyzewski run clear-out plays for Kennard because he was being defended by Maverick Rowan.
The Wolfpack has tried to use more zone lately, with mixed results, but it will be interesting to see if Capel tries to isolate a scorer on Rowan.
3) Let it all hang out
The season is slipping away from N.C. State and quickly. The only way to offset losses to Boston College, Georgia Tech or Wake Forest (at home), is steal one on the road.
There’s no sense at this point saving anything for tomorrow. If N.C. State can find a way to win its first game here in 22 years, it could jump-start the season.
Another loss puts them closer to a second straight year without the NCAA tournament and more and more questions about Gottfried’s future.
▪ Scouting Duke: The Blue Devils have been through a lot this season but on the whole they have to be considered a disappointment. They started the season No. 1, an overwhelming favorite to win the national title, but they’ve only been dominant in pockets. The second-half performance against Miami was a good sign and maybe even the springboard they need to make a move in the ACC and build momentum for the NCAA tournament.
Projected starting lineups
NC State (13-7, 2-5 ACC)
G Dennis Smith Jr. 18.9 ppg, 6.6 apg
G Terry Henderson 15.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg
G Maverick Rowan 11.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg
F Abdul-Malik Abu 11.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg
F Omer Yurtseven 7.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg
Duke (15-4, 3-3 ACC)
G Frank Jackson 11.1 ppg, 1.6 apg
G Matt Jones 8.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg
F Jayson Tatum 16.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg
F Amile Jefferson 13.1 ppg, 10.2 rpg
F Marques Bolden 2.5 ppg, 1.5 rpg