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Highlights! NC State comes up large against Duke

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Give me all of this you got.

NCAA Basketball: Duke at N.C. State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a beautiful thing when it all comes together on the same night, and that happened for NC State at the best possible time. The game went so well we didn’t even have to sweat it down the stretch—the Wolfpack played as well as any of us could have hoped, and the result was a victory that put it back on the NCAA tournament radar.

Four Factors

... NC State Duke
... NC State Duke
eFG% 50.7 40.6
TO% 13.2 17.1
OR% 35.7 30.8
FTR 29.6 31.9

State deserves credit for doing a solid job on the defensive glass against a good offensive rebounding team. With Duke struggling from the field—it was the Blue Devils’ third-worst shooting performance of the season—it was critical not to allow them to bail themselves out with a bunch of second chances. State made its significant shooting advantage stick.

Markell and Devon Daniels had great nights, while DJ Funderburk came on strong in the second half. Those three guys were the offense, so much so it didn’t matter that CJ Bryce had an off night.

NC State only made 41.4% of its twos against Duke’s tough interior defense, but the Blue Devils only hit 42.3% themselves. They came into the game making about 55% of their twos in ACC games, which ranked first in the ACC. It was their third-worst shooting performance inside the arc this season.

The Blue Devils averaged 0.87 points per possession, their second-worst output of the season. As you could see, leaning on threes is not a strategy in this team’s comfort zone—they still didn’t take a bunch despite trailing by a lot and struggling in the paint. They also didn’t make many of those shots, either.

In setting a new career high, Markell scored 20+ points for the first time since Jan. 25. When he’s focused and on his game, he’s such a huge difference-maker. This is the level of involvement we need from him the rest of the way; if he can give that to State, then the disappointments of his season will end up forgotten.

And welcome back, Scott Wood! Picked a good one, I’d say.