NC State didn’t play a terrible game in Durham on Saturday night, not by any means, but Duke was simply too much. The Blue Devils used their personnel advantage to great effect, and Zion Williamson got pretty much whatever he wanted in leading them to a comfortable 94-78 win.
There are some games you can complain about and others where all you can do is tip your cap. Duke is incredibly talented, Duke simply has better players across the board, and the result was predictable. State fought the odds best it could, but there’s only so much it could do against a team like this.
Even if you set the talent aside, this was a bad matchup just from a size standpoint. Duke dominated the glass at both ends, and that was just one more nail into the coffin of a Wolfpack team that started the game with a couple already.
NC State needed to be great from the perimeter and wasn’t. NC State needed to create some extra offense on the glass and didn’t. State had its moments, made some runs, but never could seriously challenge Duke in the second half, even after Williamson picked up his fourth foul early on.
There was no route to creating stops on a consistent basis for the Wolfpack defense, which struggles deny two-pointers even against teams made up entirely of humans. Against Duke, they never had a chance.
Williamson scored 32 on 12-16 shooting, and wisely only one of those attempts was from three. (He missed that one.) Led by Zion, Duke made 64% of its twos tonight. They began the second half with three straight dunks.
Those dunks pushed the Duke lead to 14 out of the break, and State responded out of a Kevin Keatts timeout to cut it to seven, then turned the ball over on four straight possessions. A stretch like that is not one State could afford; that’s a credit to Duke, which requires you to be damn-near perfect in order to win.
So it goes.