Duke dominates State

Frustration was what the doctor prescribed for Julius Hodge and the rest of the N.C. State Wolfpack Thursday night. Duke's (13-1, 3-0 in the ACC) tenacious defense forced Herb Sendek's squad into 20 turnovers and a miserable ride back to Raleigh after a 76-57 loss in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

"Our kids played very well defensively," Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Duhon has been a great player for us all year. His defense and leadership out on the court really makes everybody go."

With the score knotted at 11 a piece early in the first half, the Blue Devils grabbed momentum, utilizing a stingy defense. Duhon, who dished out nine assists and put up nine points, locked down Wolfpack star Hodge from the opening whistle. The N.C. State (9-3, 2-1) junior finished the night with the lucky number seven in both points and turnovers, as the Blue Devils looked like a well-oiled machine on both ends of the court.

Consecutive three-pointers by guards Daniel Ewing and J.J. Redick pushed the lead to 20-11 and fueled a 30-14 run to end the first half. Redick, whose sharp-shooting earned him 20 points on the night, went 3-for-5 from behind the arc in the opening half and spread the Wolfpack defense thin. On the other side of the ball, Hodge constantly ran into double and triple teams from a swarming Blue Devil defense that suffocated the Harlem, N.Y., native.

"I don't think [Hodge] had the game he expected to have," Ewing said. "Chris did a great job on him tonight and so did the other guys who held him. It was a team effort."

Shavlik Randolph and Luol Deng, who grabbed a team-high nine rebounds, filled in the holes for the Blue Devils on Thursday night. With just under 11 minutes remaining in the first half, Shelden Williams, who finished with 10 points, took a seat with three fouls and opened up an avenue for the Wolfpack to exploit. But the Randolph-Deng tandem blocked the road with exceptional interior defense. N.C. State big men Marcus Melvin and Levi Watkins finished the night a combined 13 points and five rebounds, nearly half of their season average.

The Blue Devils continued their assertive attack in the second 20 minutes with crisp passing on the offensive end. As Redick pushed the ball forward on the break midway through the half, he saw Deng curling around a Wolfpack defender and fed the freshman a magnificent assist for a dunk. Just minutes later Duhon lobbed a ball for Deng, who finished with 11 points, and the versatile forward responded with a thunderous alley-oop.

In the end, Hodge's night was summarized by his demise; an offensive foul in the midst of four Blue Devil defenders. The stymied junior trotted over to the bench and took a seat with over four minutes left in the game. His adversary, Duhon was busy pounding the floor in a defensive fury.

"There were times when we had momentum shots and you could tell by the crowd's reaction," Duhon said. "I was trying to make an emphasis that we need a stop. This was a point that we could make them more frustrated."


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