And one: Stewart's breakout game, resilient play bolster Duke men's basketball in win against N.C. State

Freshman forward Sean Stewart tallied 12 points in Duke's win against N.C. State Monday night.
Freshman forward Sean Stewart tallied 12 points in Duke's win against N.C. State Monday night.

After each Duke basketball game this season, check back here for the Player of the Game and more. Duke confidently handled N.C. State 79-64 Monday night, and the Blue Zone is here to break down the game:

One player: Sean Stewart

After flashing his potential through the season, Sean Stewart finally had his breakout performance against a competitive N.C. State squad. The freshman garnered 12 points, five rebounds and three blocks in 26 minutes of play, by far his season-high. For good measure, he also chipped in two assists and two steals. His impact far exceeded his counting stats, as the Windermere, Fla., native had a plus-minus of +20.

Stewart made plays to keep the Blue Devils in the contest all night long. In the middle of the first half, he snagged an offensive board off a miss and found freshman forward T.J. Power in the opposite corner, who sank a 3-pointer. His second half was similarly crucial, as he blocked two shots in under a minute before hitting a second-chance layup with 11:37 left, giving Duke the lead for good. The freshman would secure his two steals within the final five minutes of play, helping the Blue Devils put away their in-state rival. Ultimately, Stewart proved invaluable for the team in blue on both ends of the court, and Duke will hope to carry his strong outing into a pivotal matchup against North Carolina Saturday.

One word: Resilience

While the Blue Devils eventually came through with a strong win, the road to get there was anything but easy. The Wolfpack began the game on a 9-0 run thanks in part to two early buckets by graduate student D.J. Burns. Duke would erase the deficit, but the 6-foot-9, 275-pound Burns got essentially whatever he wanted in the post, finishing the contest with a season-high 27 points. Indeed, N.C. State kept it close through the first 28 minutes of the game, with a Mohamed Diarra layup giving the Wolfpack a 46-45 edge with 12:10 to go.

This proved no matter for the Blue Devils, however, who seemed to have an answer for everything N.C. State threw at them. After missing his first five shots from outside the arc, freshman sharpshooter Jared McCain nailed a trey with 11:14 left. On the next possession, sophomore center Kyle Filipowski drew a double onto senior Jeremy Roach before hitting his own 3-pointer. This powered Duke to a 10-point lead with five minutes to go. On a chaotic possession under the rim, Roach found McCain, who secured a four-point play with 4:11 to extend the lead to 14, icing the game.

One stat: 62.5% from the field in the second half

The Blue Devils did not shoot well during the first half, only cashing in on 12-of-36 attempts compared to their opponent’s 13 makes on 27 shots during the period. Part of this was Duke’s poor 3-point conversion — McCain and Roach, two outstanding shooters, went a combined 0-for-7 from outside the arc.

The Blue Devils, however, fared much better from the floor in the second half, making 20-of-32 shots, including 83.3% of their 2-point attempts. Filipowski, McCain and Roach combined for a perfect 10-of-10 shooting on twos during the period, with McCain also adding three triples. While Duke only made 30% of its 3-point attempts during the game, its five threes during the second half were critical to thwarting the Wolfpack’s chances of victory. Heading into Saturday’s rivalry game and then the postseason, the Blue Devils will hope to show that they can seal the deal on games with their efficiency, even if it’s not always present in the first half. If it can do so consistently, Duke will be as dangerous as any team in March.


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