CarterBlock

Carter and Duke struggled to defend the paint. 

Beyond the arc: Breaking down Duke's defensive struggles against N.C. State



Duke fell hard once again in its second ACC road game, getting dealt a 96-85 loss at N.C. State. The Blue Zone gives three key takeaways and stats and looks forward for the Blue Devils:

Three key takeaways: 

1. Duke might never get it going from deep 

A year after being able to rely on their guards from deep, the Blue Devils might have to accept the fact that they could never get it going from the perimeter this season. Against major conference teams, Duke has shot better than 39 percent just twice—once against Michigan State, and once against Florida. Since then, the Blue Devils have been woeful from beyond the arc, shooting just 23.9 percent, including making just 3-of-15 Saturday against the Wolfpack. 

2. A regular season ACC title is likely out of reach

The last two years, North Carolina has won the ACC regular season championship with four conference losses, but over the eight years before that, ACC champions either had two or three losses. With likely just one or two losses left to play with, a regular season championship is likely out of the question, especially with a road challenge against Miami looming on the horizon. 

3. It’s not just the perimeter defense that needs work

Duke had struggled mightily to defend from beyond the arc heading into the heart of conference play, but that problem was resolved Saturday, at least for the time being. The Blue Devils allowed N.C. State to shoot a relatively respectable 35.7 percent from deep, their best mark against a power conference team since Nov. 29 against Indiana. But Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr. struggled mightily to contain the paint, allowing Omer Yurtseven and Abdul-Malik Abu to combine for 26 points on 13-of-22 shooting. Bagley and Carter will need to contain the paint better if Duke wants to keep a conference opponent below 89 points for the first time all season. 

Three key stats: 

1. Trevon Duval turns the ball over eight times

Duval’s usual silky-smooth passing wasn’t there Saturday—he turned the ball over a whopping eight times. Overall, N.C. State won the turnover battled 16-10 and outscored Duke 22-17 on giveaways. 

2. N.C. State records 44 points in the paint 

Although Florida State forward Phil Cofer lit up the Blue Devils for 28 points, 18 of them came from beyond the arc—Duke hadn't struggled to slow the opposition in the post like it did Saturday yet this season. Before fouling out, Yurtseven and Abu were able to slide past Bagley and Carter repeatedly to take the air out of the Blue Devil defense. Although Bagley scored 31 points, it wasn't enough to make up for it. 

3. Krzyzewski uses six-man rotation 

With Marques Bolden out due to a knee injury, head coach Mike Krzyzewski leaned heavily on his usual starting five—Bagley, Carter, Grayson Allen, Duval and Gary Trent Jr—plus Javin DeLaurier. That was it. Despite Allen and Trent's struggles from the floor, Alex O'Connell and Jordan Goldwire combined to play just three minutes. 

Looking forward: 

The ACC once again looks like one of the deepest conferences in college basketball and will continue to push a young Blue Devils team to bring it on defense. Although a regular season conference championship is likely not in the cards, Duke could very well get it together on defense and have a good shot in the ACC tournament and in March. But it will have to improve quickly—the Blue Devils will get just a road game against Pittsburgh and a home game against Wake Forest before they have to travel to Coral Gables to take on the No. 15 Hurricanes. 


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