N.C. State conjured up homecourt magic once again on Saturday night to bag another big upset.
Having suffered blowout losses in its first two ACC road games, the Wolfpack used strong interior play to shoot 55 percent in the second half in a 96-85 win win over No. 2 Duke before a sold-out crowd at PNC Arena.
N.C. State had dropped its first two ACC games in lopsided fashion, suffering a 78-62 loss at Clemson and an 88-58 loss at Notre Dame.
But the Wolfpack was a far better offensive on its home court. Pounding the ball inside to its trio of big men allowed N.C. State to shoot 51 percent.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News & Observer
Omer Yurtseven scored 16 points, Lennard Freeman 13 and Abdul-Malik Abu 10 for N.C. State (11-5, 1-2 ACC).
It’s the second win N.C. State has logged over a top-five team this season. The Wolfpack beat then No. 2 Arizona 90-84 on Nov. 22
Duke (13-2, 1-2) shot 51.7 percent but hit just 3 of 15 3-pointers and never led in the second half. Marvin Bagley III had 31 points and 10 rebounds for Duke.
N.C. State built a 75-66, with 6:47 to play.
Having trailed the entire second half, Duke attempted a comeback when Bagley scored inside and Gary Trent turned a turnover into a layup to cut N.C. State’s lead to 79-76 with 3:59 to play.
But Braxton Beverly drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 2:44 left. After Bagley hit two free throws, Torin Dorn’s 3-pointer from the corner with 2:03 to play put the Wolfpack comfortably in front 85-78.
Beverly drew a foul after stealing the ball and hit two free throws with 1:48 left giving the Wolfpack an 87-78 lead.
Duke, which had been up by 11 in the first half only to fall behind by as many as eight in the second half, cut N.C State’s lead to 69-66 with 8:20 to play.
The Wolfpack, though, responded with six points in a row to build its largest lead of the game. Jump shots by Allerik Freeman and Dorn followed by Beverly’s drive for a reverse layup gave the Wolfpack a 75-66 lead with 6:47 to play.
After erasing the 11-point first-half deficit to lead 43-41 at halftime, N.C. State pounded the ball inside to convert high-percentage shots after halftime.
The Wolfpack made six of its first nine shots of the half, with Yurtseven converting two for dunks, to take a 55-47 lead with 16:11 to play.
When Duke dominated play inside early to build a 27-16 lead, N.C State appeared on its way to a third consecutive lopsided loss in ACC play.
But, unlike losses to Clemson and Notre Dame, the Wolfpack mounted a counterattack.
While Duke went scoreless on six consecutive possessions, N.C. State scored 15 points in row. The Pack scored 12 of them over a 1:47 stretch and took a 31-27 lead on a Yurtseven jumper.
Duke responded with a 10-2 run, fueled by strong play inside. Bagley scored a pair of baskets during the stretch, and Gary Trent added baskets on a pair of strong drives to the basket.
But N.C. State closed the half in solid fashion, with Yurtseven scoring the six of the Wolfpack’s final 10 points before halftime.
Twice in the final minute Yurtseven rebounded Wolfpack misses to score. His final rebound basket with eight seconds left gave N.C State the 43-41 halftime lead.