Raleigh, NC – For the second time this season, the NC State men’s basketball team knocked off the nation’s second-ranked team as the Wolfpack downed No. 2 Duke 96-85 Saturday night inside PNC Arena.
In head coach Kevin Keatts’ first ACC win and NC State’s first ACC win of the season, Omer Yurtseven and Torin Dorn each finished with 16 points to lead the Pack in scoring. Yurtseven tied his career high in field goals made with eight, while also finishing with nine rebounds to lead NC State on the boards. Allerik Freeman added 15 points, five rebounds and had a career-high five assists. Freeman was also perfect from the free-throw line, knocking down all seven of his attempts.
Rounding out the Wolfpack’s balanced attack was Braxton Beverly who chipped in 14 points, Lennard Freeman who was a tower of strength inside with 13, and Abdul-Malik Abu who contributed 10. Lavar Batts, Jr. also provided a spark off the bench as he added a career-high five assists and grabbed four rebounds.
NC State’s bench was pivotal in the win as it outscored Duke’s bench, 25-4. The Wolfpack’s defensive pressure created 22 points off turnovers and the squad had 20 second chance points. The Pack also shut down the Blue Devils’ three-point attack as Duke was held to just 20 percent shooting from behind the arc. The Wolfpack also had the advantage on the boards, out-rebounding Duke, 34-32. Free throw shooting was also key to NC State’s win, as it converted on 23-of-25 attempts for 92 percent.
Tonight’s win was a case of déjà vu for NC State as the last time Duke entered PNC Arena ranked No. 2 (Jan. 15, 2015) the Wolfpack prevailed, 87-75. It also marked the first time since 1995 NC State has defeated Duke in back-to-back games.
NC State has now defeated Duke the last four times the Blue Devils have come to PNC Arena ranked first or second in the associated press poll.
Duke led in the early stages of the game, but NC State took the lead with 7:29 on the clock thanks to a 12-0 run capped off by a Sam Hunt three-pointer from the left corner to take the lead, 28-27.
The remainder of the half was a back-and-forth battle. Yurtseven closed out his 10-point, six rebound first half with an emphatic two-handed put-back dunk to give NC State a 43-41 lead going into halftime.
Dorn came out of halftime and set the tone for what was a 12-point half early; he banked in a turnaround jump shot high off the glass giving NC State a 45-41 lead with 19:36 on the clock and the Wolfpack never looked back.
While Duke narrowed the margin to three points, 61-58, with 12:56 remaining in the half the Wolfpack remained composed down the stretch. A pick ‘n’ roll between Allerik Freeman and Abu resulting in a thunderous Abu dunk to put NC State ahead by seven with 9:42 remaining, however Duke brought cut it to a three-point game with just 3:59 remaining.
Beverly and Dorn’s hot shooting late in the game ensured Duke did not cut into the score any further. Beverly knocked down a timely three-pointer with 2:46 left to play to which Duke answered with a pair of Marvin Bagley III free throws.
Dorn’s three with 2:02 on the clock followed by another pair of Beverly free throws with 1:47 saw the lead grow to nine, putting the game all but out of reach for Duke. Batts, Jr., iced the game with a pair of free throws of his own with 0:40 seconds left in the game giving NC State an 11-point lead and the 96-85 victory.
Up Next: NC State returns to action on Thursday, Jan. 11, when it takes on the Clemson Tigers (14-1, 3-0) at home. The game is scheduled to begin at 9:00 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN.