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Duke 81, NC State 68

Box Score

So painfully close until the last five minutes. Again.

I can deal with it in this case, though. Duke had the ball bounce their way and made some big shots. I'm going to be thinking about that six point possession for a while.

I came away thinking we'd done a great job on the boards, but the box score indicates we weren't as good as I thought. I think Duke surged on the glass in addition to on the scoreboard over the last 5:00. Still, rebounding was essentially even, and it was by no means a poor effort:

NCSU OR%: 29%
Duke OR%: 30.6%

Shooting was also even thanks to a big advantage from behind the arc for Duke...

NCSU eFG%: .537
Duke eFG%: .543

It's hard to complain about shooting 53.7% in Durham, but our inability to generate good looks from behind the arc was extremely disappointing. Duke's perimeter defense was so suffocating that it nullified NC State's entire backcourt (save Cam). Atsur couldn't get any breathing room off of the dribble or away from the ball, while Tony Bethel was left taking terrible pull up jumpers.

Not surprisingly, Duke had a significant edge in the turnover department.

NCSU TO%: 24.5%
Duke TO%: 14.4%

That equated to seven extra possessions for the Devils, and they scored 28 points off of NC State turnovers.

JJ Redick's value to his team was painfully evident tonight, and I'm not even talking about the shots he made. We were so concerned about his shooting abilities that we constantly over-committed, over-ran and jumped at the slightest hint of a field goal attempt. Redick took advantage of our mad scrambling by finding open teammates all over the place. He ended up with six assists, and considering that he only averages 2.5 ast/40 minutes, that's noteworthy. On the occasions where we were lazy, he nailed the open looks. I hope we've seen him for the last time.

Getting back to Duke's defense... I'm still shocked that we only attempted 11 threes over the course of the game. To an extent, that was a function of the way Cedric Simmons was playing, but Duke's pressure deserves most of the credit. The Pack didn't even manage a few backdoor cuts against the Devils' aggressive perimeter defense. State did pass up some open looks in order to dribble penetrate, which drives me (no pun intended) absolutely nuts. Shoot. The. Ball. Dribble penetration just isn't our strength. Shoot when you're open, goddammit.

But enough of that. I am smiling right now because Cedric Simmons was brilliant. Transcendent. Better than the Renaissance.

Simmons: 11-18 (61.1%), 28 points, 9 rebs (6 offensive), 7 blocks, 3 steals

Most of the damage was done against the Landlord, which makes his night even more impressive. I bet Shelden knows who Cedric Simmons is now. It was good to see Ced bounce back from a bad day at the line against Georgia Tech (2-8) and hit six of eight tonight.

Kudos also to Cameron Bennerman and Gavin Grant for providing a boost. Cam accounted for both of State's made three-pointers and I thought Gavin played pretty intelligently (for once). Gavin remains a turnover machine, but his 13 points and 7 boards made up for the mistakes.

Bethel, Evtimov and Atsur combined for 6 points in 91 minutes.

To end on a brighter note, there's this from Tim Peeler's article:

"That's the best team we've played," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "They know what they are doing and they do it well."