After riding high for just over a month, Duke was blind-sided by N.C. State in an embarrassing 66-88 road loss Wednesday. The Blue Zone gives you three key takeaways, stats and looks forward for the Blue Devils:
Three Key Takeaways
1. Duke throws fundamentals out the window
The team that took the court in PNC Arena was not the same team that won a miracle in Chapel Hill or trounced Notre Dame over the weekend. Instead, N.C. State was treated to an all-you-can-steal buffet as the Blue Devils turned over the ball time and time again. The sloppiness wasn’t just in playmaking either. Duke missed easy layups and midrange jumpers left and right, most consequentially in the early minutes. From the opening tip-off to the final buzzer, the Blue Devils were on their heels, inviting the Wolfpack to apply pressure and topple them right over.
2. Vernon Carey Jr. soars as Blue Devils sink
The bad news is that Tre Jones may not be as invincible as he seemed after the North Carolina win. The good news is that when he disappears on the court, Duke can count on Carey to pick up some of the slack. Carey was the only dominant Blue Devil Wednesday, putting up 27 points and 12 rebounds, his 13th double-double. The big man went to work in the paint, however, it seemed no one around him was capable of producing anything of substance on offense. As dominant as he is on his own, we now see what happens when all but Carey cease to perform.
3. No time for timeouts
Meanwhile on the sideline, you could practically see steam coming out of Mike Krzyzewski’s ears the entire game. But for the most part, he didn’t intervene. In fact, Krzyzewski didn’t call a single timeout until under two minutes left in the first half with Duke down 14. At this point, the Hall of Famer is probably used to this team starting slow, but at a certain point, it was obvious that the Blue Devils were becoming less and less likely to wake themselves up. This isn’t to say that timeouts always halt runs, but it could have broken up the Wolfpack's momentum.
Three Key Stats:
1. Three players, 74 points
Between DJ Funderburk, Devon Daniels, and Markell Johnson, N.C. State collected all but 14 of its total points. The trio played an average of 34.3 minutes, causing incessant problems for the Blue Devils. While Funderburk commanded the post, Daniels and Johnson attacked from just about everywhere else, exhausting Duke’s defense.
2. 4-for-17 from deep
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If at first you don’t succeed, maybe don’t try 16 more times. As the Wolfpack’s defense suffocated the Blue Devils, they resorted to launching up 3-point attempts that failed repeatedly. Compared to N.C. State’s 8-for-13 3-point shooting, it becomes even clearer that Duke was not the better team that night.
3. 10-for-22 from the charity stripe
Over the previous five games, Duke hadn’t shot worse than 70 percent from the free throw line. Against N.C, State, however, it reverted to its old habits. Free throws were a point of emphasis early in the season and the work paid off, becoming a major factor in both victories over the Tar Heels and Florida State.
The Blue Devils will have a short three day break before Saturday’s Virginia Tech game, giving Krzyzewski plenty of time to address the catastrophe against the Wolfpack. While the Hokies are currently 6-9 in the ACC and losers of six of their last seven games, Duke should be less concerned with its opponents this time around and pay more attention to the game-defining details.