The No. 6 Duke Blue Devils have taken full advantage of their opportunities, riding a seven-game winning streak into first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Now host North Carolina State needs to capitalize on chances to make a move in the standings when the teams meet Wednesday night in Raleigh, N.C.
“We go on the road against (NC) State to try to keep it going,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
The Blue Devils (22-3, 12-2 ACC) have thrived in a variety of situations. After four straight games decided by single-digit margins, including one in overtime, they blew out Notre Dame on Saturday.
The Wolfpack is in the middle of the pack and considered on the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament bubble. This week’s slate for NC State (16-9, 7-7) also includes a weekend home matchup with No. 8 Florida State.
“We understand coming down the stretch we’re going to play some good teams,” NC State coach Kevin Keatts said. “To be able to advance (to the NCAAs), we’re going to have to win some of those games. … We’re sitting at 7-7, but with some great opportunities right in front of us.”
NC State lost 71-68 at Boston College on Sunday night, ending the Wolfpack’s two-game winning streak in their third straight road game.
“Thought we did some good things during that string,” Keatts said. “I thought we’ve played well as of late. Going out on the road and being able to win two out of three says a lot about our guys.”
Duke guard Cassius Stanley is expected to be back in action for the NC State game, Krzyzewski said. The freshman missed Saturday’s game against Notre Dame after he was inadvertently poked in the eye by a team manager during warmups.
This is the first of two meetings between the teams in the final weeks of the regular season.
Duke leads the all-time series by 147-101, winning last year after NC State claimed 2017 and 2018 victories.
“It will be a tremendous challenge and a tremendous opportunity for us,” Keatts said.
Saturday’s 94-60 blasting of visiting Notre Dame gave Duke an ACC-record fifth conference victory by 30 or more points this season.
“Every game it seems like we find something else out about ourselves, and we keep getting better,” Duke forward Javin DeLaurier said.
Duke put four players in double-figure scoring, making it the 15th game this season that at least four players have done so.
“They’ve got a little bit of everything,” Keatts said of Duke. “They can beat you in a lot of areas. They’re a team that can score quickly. You’ve got to try to control the game and don’t let the game get away from you.”
Duke freshman center Vernon Carey Jr. has scored 20 or more points in 11 games this season. Guard Tre Jones is averaging 17.5 points across the past 11 games, showing an enhanced offensive component.
“He has done that especially the last few weeks,” Krzyzewski said.
Duke got it done on defense in the Notre Dame game as well. The Irish made a season-low five shots from 3-point range.
When NC State returned from Boston College, it marked the final out-of-state game for the Wolfpack until at least after the ACC Tournament.
–Field Level Media