After each Duke men's basketball game, the Blue Zone provides you with our breakdown of the game by one word, one stat and one player. Read our summary of the Blue Devils most recent victory over N.C. State:
One word: Insufficient
After somewhat of a tumultuous first half of the season, Duke got back to business against N.C. State in Raleigh on Saturday. The team’s record going into the game was one game below .500. The Blue Devils cruised to a 16-point win, capitalizing off of a great first half, in which they limited N.C. State to a paltry 21 points. For a team that’s struggled on defense over the last few conference games, it’s good to see that they could string together a solid performance on that end of the floor. They’d allowed over 75 points in the previous three games. Now sitting at .500, head coach Mike Krzyzewski cannot be satisfied. Saturday’s performance certainly was good, but in Durham, the standard is near perfection. Saturday’s performance was certainly not a negative, but beating a mediocre N.C. State is only par for the course.
One stat: 5 blocks for Mark Williams
Seeing how big the Wolfpack plays, Krzyzewski opted to start freshman Mark Williams, who managed to swat everything in his path Saturday afternoon. Standing at 7-foot, Williams is a true center. Given how the season has gone so far, the development of young players will be as much of a focus as winning games. It’s encouraging to see Williams’s effort and output as a defender, and he could potentially play a vital role in the paint for the rest of this season and into next year.
One player: Matthew Hurt
Arguably the most consistent offensive player for Duke this year, Hurt has struggled to defend bigs in the post. N.C. State opted for a tall lineup, starting DJ Funderburk and Manny Bates down low, and Hurt struggled early, notching two fouls midway through the first half and heading to the bench despite prolific scoring output to start the game. He finished with 26 minutes total and didn’t foul at all after he came back on the floor. Though Duke’s shot at making the NCAA tournament is slimmer than it was back in November, if they want any chance of making it, they need Hurt’s 17.7 points per game. Crazies should be moderately encouraged by his ability to play a more clean game, but should also wait to see him do it against a quality opponent in a tightly contested matchup.