Jarkel Joiner tried his damnedest in the last couple of minutes to rescue NC State from an underwhelming effort, but it was just too tough an ask. On a night where Terquavion Smith didn’t make a bucket until there was 1:41 left, there was too much ground to be made up.
Still, that was impressive: Joiner scored eight points late and a Wolfpack team that was down 12 with two minutes left found itself down only three less than 90 seconds later. Alas, Duke did not waver at the free throw line and managed to hold on.
After those last two minutes, the rest of the game feels a little extra frustrating, and especially the second half, where State’s offense up and disappeared. NC State had 47 points with 10 minutes left and had just 53 eight minutes later. That’s rarely going to cut it.
Casey Morsell didn’t make a shot all night, and with T also providing next to nothing, the pressure landed on Joiner and DJ Burns. Burns ended up shooting an unusually poor 6-15 from the floor. Jack Clark made his return after that ugly fall the other day and scored 13 on 6-10 shooting, which filled some of the void but not nearly enough.
A night at Cameron Indoor would never be complete without some degree of heinous fuckery, and NC State got more than its recommended daily value in the first half, when Baby T was given a technical after a Duke player theatrically lost his footing. I’m so used to these things by now that they hardly register. Anyway, I wish that young man all the best at the Tony Awards.
Overcoming the officiating in Durham is the eternal challenge, and NC State could have done that and won this game had it played better offensively. Duke certainly invited the opportunity by shooting 2-19 from three. But so it goes.