HOW ABOUT THAT WOLFPACK?
NC State absolutely destroyed the #6 Duke Blue Devils on Wednesday night, earning an 88-66 victory that could prove critical to its NCAA Tournament hopes.
State was on fire from the first possession, jumping out to a 10-1 lead behind electric play from Devon Daniels. That play continued throughout the first half, where Daniels was virtually unstoppable. He would finish with a career high 25 points on 8-15 shooting. You cannot say enough about this guy and how much more efficient he has become over the last few months. Major major credit to him for the type of role he has managed to fill this season.
Good Markell showed up as well, which you probably assumed given the result. Johnson had his jumpshot back, knocking down his first five three pointers, including one from, you’ll never guess, beyond halfcourt at the buzzer. That’s three this year, which has to be some sort of record. Nobody could stay in front of the senior all night as he marched to a game leading 28 points. When Johnson brings this kind of play, he’s as good as any point guard in the country. His halfcourt heave sent State to the break with a 44-29 lead.
Duke was inevitably going to make a run. It’s too good of a team not to. That run came early in the second half and was lead by Duke’s Tre Jones and Vernon Carey, who were the only Duke players that really even showed up. A Carey three point play cut it to 61-50 with 11:18 to go, but the Pack responded with a Markell Johnson triple and then never looked back.
D.J. Funderburk had a lot to do with State’s ability to absorb that run. The junior forward posted a 21 and 9 line and did about as good of a job denying Carey the ball that you can possibly do. Funderburk cleaned up the boards as well in the second half. He is not a traditional big with great post moves, but he finds ways to get buckets, and he was tremendous for State on Wednesday.
It doesn’t need to be said that this was State’s best game of the year, but it is worth remarking just how much better it looked than basically every other game the whole season. Duke was certainly not on its A-game, but a 22-point win? Really? I’m still trying to digest how that is even possible. What a performance.
With this win, the Pack is right back on the bubble with another huge opportunity looming this weekend against top 10 Florida State. Let’s go get another one. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go watch this game again, and then again, and again.
And then again.