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Duke 88, NC State 80: Wolfpack plays tough but can't pull off upset

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Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

I feel like I've written this a dozen times this season. NC State was competitive on Saturday afternoon, and rallied from a double-digit deficit in the second half to give it a shot at winning down the stretch. Cat Barber was very good. None of it was enough. Duke pulled out the win on the strength of one zillion free throws, 88-80.

Barber scored 26 on 8-14 shooting from the field, and Abdul-Malik Abu scored 16 and grabbed 17 rebounds. It wasn't Abu's most efficient effort scoring the ball, but that's a heck of a stat line. Great effort. It was a good overall effort for a team that was essentially without a key piece the entire afternoon. Caleb Martin, who averages 2.9 fouls committed per 40 minutes, fouled out with impressive quickness in Durham.

Duke, meanwhile, hit 14 of its 28 three-point attempts. It's just comical at this point, I mean there's nothing else we can do but try to laugh about this. Coming into the day, opponents had shot 37% from three. In other words, NC State has been really unlucky in this particular statistical category. Sure, perimeter defense has some effect, but three-point shooting is mostly outside the control of a defense and random.

Teams usually catch their fair number of breaks over the course of the college basketball season. This NC State team hasn't had many, and this team needs breaks more than any Wolfpack team in recent memory. That's the story of this season, unfortunately.

Cat Barber is very good.