Duke's Nolan Smith drives past N.C. State's Jordan Vandenberg (14) on his way to the basket. ETHAN HYMAN - firstname.lastname@example.org
RALEIGH — Kyle Singler said Duke demonstrated in its second ACC road game that it learned from its failure in its first ACC road game.
N.C. State, meanwhile, saw on Wednesday night that it still has a lot more to learn, particularly on defense.
No. 4-ranked Duke shot 50.7 percent from the field to post a 92-78 win at the RBC Center, recording its highest point total in an ACC game since a 101-91 defeat of Wake Forest on Feb. 22, 2009.
As usual, the senior duo of Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler led the Blue Devils (17-1, 4-1 ACC). Smith scored 22 points and handed out six assists, and Singler added 18 points and nine rebounds.
But the contributions of the other seven players who stepped on the court also were significant as Duke learned from its 66-61 loss a week earlier at Florida State. Singler and Smith accounted for all but 26 of Duke’s points in that game.
“We know that we’ve got to involve everyone,” Singler said. “That’s how we’re going to win big ballgames, especially on the road. It’s tough to come in and just rely on one or two players to get the win.”
All nine of Duke’s healthy scholarship players scored Wednesday, and post players Miles Plumlee, Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee made a huge impact. Miles Plumlee and Kelly, the Ravenscroft graduate playing in his hometown, each scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Mason Plumlee established himself as a defensive force in the middle, blocking six shots to go with his 10 rebounds.
“Those seven guys, outside of Nolan and Kyle, they just need experience,” said Duke coach Mike Krzyewski. “They need to do things like they did tonight, they need to do it a few more times.”
The Wolfpack (11-7, 1-3) wasn’t able to follow up on the 88-74 stunner it posted against eventual NCAA champion Duke last season. Coach Sidney Lowe had hoped the veterans who played in that game would be able to relate the experience to N.C. State’s younger players and give them confidence.
It didn’t happen that way. Freshmen C.J. Leslie, Ryan Harrow and Lorenzo Brown and Ryan Harrow combined to go 0-for-17 from the field in the first half as Duke built a 42-28 halftime lead.
N.C. State has lost three games in a row after starting ACC play with a win over Wake Forest.
“There’s still a lot of games left,” said N.C. State coach Sidney Lowe. “But we need a run. We need a nice run. It’s not a panic situation. But too many of those [losses], yeah, it will be.”
Lowe was proud of the effort the Wolfpack delivered in cutting a 16-point deficit to 54-49 after two Scott Wood 3-pointers in 1:53. Wood finished with 15 points, Harrow scored 13 of his points in the second half, and Tracy Smith led N.C. State with 19 points.
But Nolan Smith took over for Duke after the lead was trimmed to five. He made a pair of free throws and a fast-break layup, then drew the defense with a drive and passed to Kelly for a 3-pointer on the baseline. Singler added a layup, and suddenly Duke led 63-50.
With so many scoring options working for the Blue Devils, the Wolfpack didn’t have a chance to come back. And that’s exactly the way Duke wanted it.
“We came into this game knowing we all had to contribute to get a good victory,” Kelly said. “We couldn’t rely on just two guys.”