Editor's note: Staff writer Jack Daly's full-game story is below, followed by staff writer J.P. Giglio's first-half impressions underneath. Go to newsoberver.com/sports to see game photos and video highlights.
DURHAM — In the course of eight days, Duke has come up with two of its more memorable rallies in recent memory.
The Blue Devils rallied from a 20-point second half deficit against N.C. State on Thursday for a shocking 78-73 win over the Wolfpack at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Austin Rivers hit a 3-pointer with 2:24 left to bring Duke all the way back from the huge deficit.
By that point, N.C. State seemed hopelessly rattled, as the Blue Devils finished the game on a 37-12 run. It was somewhat reminiscent of last Wednesday, when Duke rallied from a 10-point deficit with a little more than 2 minutes left for a thrilling victory over UNC.
Seth Curry led Duke with 26 points while Rivers finished with 16.
Lorenzo Brown led N.C. State with 19 points.
In a sign of how rattled the Wolfpack was by the end of the game, Scott Wood missed as many free throws in the second half (three) as he had all year.
The Wolfpack still had a chance to send the game to overtime after Curry missed a shot in the lane with 28 seconds left. Trailing by three, N.C. State didn’t call a timeout. Instead, Brown missed a contested 3-pointer in the corner. Duke got the rebound and Curry made two free throws to seal the win.
With Duke missing shot after shot, the Wolfpack enjoyed a dream first half, building a 19-point lead at one point before taking a 16-point advantage into halftime. Duke missed its first nine 3-pointers to grease the tracks for the Wolfpack’s impressive start.
N.C. State kept going in the early part of the second half. After Brown made two free throws with 11:33 remaining, N.C. State led 61-41. It looked like the Wolfpack would win in Cameron for the first time since 1995.
But the Blue Devils went on a 9-0 run after that, first pulling within 61-48 when Andre Dawkins hit a 3-pointer with 9:59 left.
After a Duke timeout, N.C. State got the ball to Wood, who missed a pull-up jumper in the corner. After another Dawkins’ 3-point attempt, Mason Plumlee made two free throws to bring the Blue Devils back within 11, 61-50.
N.C. State squandered another opportunity on the offensive end, and Curry came down and hit a driving layup to cut the Wolfpack lead to nine.
After Brown scored a driving layup on other end, Curry then got in the lane again and hit a jumper. Duke trailed 63-54 with 8:14 remaining.
Alex Johnson hit a jumper for the Wolfpack to steady the team before Curry got to the basket once again for the Blue Devils to cut the N.C. State lead to 65-56. The teams traded points before a Dawkins free throw brought Duke within eight, 68-60, with 5:43 remaining. That was the closest Duke had been since the game was 10 minutes old.
After Dawkins missed his second free-throw opportunity, Brown made one of two free throws on the other end. Rivers scored on a driving layup on the other end, and Duke was within seven, 69-62, with 5:26 left.
That’s about when Duke really put the pressure on the Wolfpack.
After C.J. Williams missed a jumper for N.C. State, Rivers got to the basket again for another layup. C.J. Leslie missed an 18-footer on the other end. Then Plumlee scored on a second-chance layup on the other end. N.C State’s lead was down to 69-66 with a little more than 4 minutes remaining. Duke had outscored the Wolfpack 25-8 since N.C. State led by 20.
The Wolfpack got a breath of life when Leslie followed a Howell miss with a dunk, but Rivers came down and made a 3-pointer on the other end to cut the Wolfpack lead to 71-69 with 3:11 left.
Minutes later, Rivers hit the 3-pointer that put Duke on top and the Blue Devils had completed the comeback.
In black uniforms, N.C. State looks like a different team, and the Wolfpack is playing like one, too.
The Pack leads No. 5 Duke 46-30 at the half of Thursday's game at Cameron Indoor Stadium, where State hasn't won since 1995.
Guard Alex Johnson has 11 points off the bench for the Wolfpack, which has made five of its nine 3-point attempts. Duke, one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the ACC, missed its first nine 3s and is just 2 of 14 from behind the arc.
A year ago, Duke led 53-24 at the half in a low-point for the Wolfpack under Sidney Lowe. Mark Gottfried's first team has saved its best half of the season for the trip to Cameron, where it has 13 straight and hasn't beaten Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski since 1988.
Forward C.J. Leslie, who was suspended for last year's game at Duke, has eight points and four blocks for State.
Reserve forward Josh Hairston leads Duke with six points. The Blue Devils' regular leading scorer Austin Rivers is 0 for 4 from the floor and has just three points.