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NC State pulls out narrow win at Duke with good shooting, Dennis Smith, and Abdul-Malik Abu

Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

Good shooting always helps in any given game but NC State reverted from character in a couple of key ways on Monday night to help bring home a significant road victory. Turnovers had plagued the Pack up to this point in the conference season, but State--despite some terrifying-looking passes--took good care of the ball. State also did well on the defensive glass, and if there is a testament to Dennis Smith's influence, it's the fact that the Pack earned 30 free throw attempts.

Four Factors NC State
eFG% 56.1 53.1
Turnover Rate 13.4
Off Reb Rate 20.0 26.3
FT Rate 52.6 32.8

82 75 109.9 112.6
NC State
84 75 112.6 109.9

It was not a defensive contest by any means, and NC State deserves immense credit for coming back from an eight-point deficit to take the lead in the first 10 minutes of the second half, then rebounding from another eight-point deficit midway through the half and a seven-point deficit with five and change to go. You been here long enough, you've seen this game in Cameron end a bunch of different ways, all of them bad. This time was not that time.

NC State rallied so confidently that it was actually in control with less than two minutes remaining.

DSJ was great, and so was Malik Abu, whose combination of jumpers and dunks made him a standout performer. Malik can be a really good jump shooter, but he should also bottle that feeling when he catches a DSJ pass on a rope in the paint and then kills the rim.

Mav Rowan was clutch in the second half after a terrible first, while Ted Kapita made the most of his latest opportunity. Mark Gottfried expanded his rotation, partly out of necessity, but I also think it can give the team more confidence when guys like Markell Johnson and Teddy KGB are getting more run than usual and also playing pretty well.

With Dennis, I mean, what is there to say. The lights came on and he was ready. Didn't matter at all that it was Cameron Indoor. If he doesn't miss a few bunnies then his effort approaches the stuff of legend. I'm not going to forget that three-pointer at the end of the first half, or that dunk to end the game that did not count.

I don't know what this means for the rest of the season. It might mean nothing. Tonight, NC State was better than Duke--in Durham--and that is more than enough.