Wolfpack hand No.1 Duke first loss of the season
Raleigh, NC (Sports Network) - C.J. Leslie posted a game-best 25 points as 20th-ranked North Carolina State knocked No. 1 Duke from the ranks of the unbeaten with an 84-76 decision on Saturday afternoon.
Richard Howell dropped in 16 points with a game-high 18 rebounds for the Wolfpack (14-2, 3-0 ACC), who beat their conference rivals for the first time in nearly three years.
"We drew some energy off our fans, no question about it," said NC State head coach Mark Gottfried. "Our guys played really hard, they knew this was a big deal. Our ability to finish defensive possessions with rebounds in the second half helped us. The best offense we could run was getting on the boards and scoring. We finished it with defensive rebounding."
Scott Wood had 14 points and Lorenzo Brown picked up 12 points and tied a career best by dishing out 13 assists as NC State won its 10th in a row overall.
Seth Curry made five three-pointers en route to 22 points for the Blue Devils (15-1, 2-1), who couldn't meet the challenge in their first true road contest of the season.
Quinn Cook added 17 points and Mason Plumlee contributed 15 points and 11 boards with four steals in defeat, one which came without the services of Ryan Kelly.
Only Michigan, which plays Ohio State on Sunday, remains unblemished on the year.
"Give NC State all the credit, I thought they played a heck of a game and I thought we fought like crazy to give ourselves a chance to win," said Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski. "State played outstanding basketball. I thought we played well, we're banged up but our kids played with a lot of heart and their kids did too."
Cook's layup brought Duke back within 55-51 with just over seven minutes played in the second half, and when Curry was true from long distance, the Blue Devils found themselves down only 58-57 approaching the midway point.
The hosts struck back with nine in a row to gain the breathing room they needed to post the victory, ending on a fast-break lay-in from Rodney Purvis plus a free throw for a 67-57 game. Leslie fueled the surge with the first three baskets.
Cook's bucket and a Curry triple pulled Duke within five, but the NC State lead grew to nine once more, 71-62, with 5:02 to go, after Howell made his tries from the charity stripe. Plumlee's bucket in the paint made it 73-69 with 2:07 to play, but Leslie answered in kind to push NC State's lead to six.
Following Cook's miss in close, Brown made the front end of a 1-and-1 for a seven-point spread inside of a minute remaining. Cook then hit a layup for a 76-71 score with 40.7 on the clock.
Brown connected on two from the line to extend the lead to seven, and Cook responded in kind to make it 78-73. That was as close as Duke was allowed down the stretch. Wood and Leslie combined to go 6-for-6 from the line to seal it.
NC State led 5-2 in the opening minutes, and its lead grew to 13-8 with just over 5 1/2 minutes played. Duke used a quick burst to take a 21-15 advantage after a fadeaway jumper from Curry and the resulting free throw.
A four-point play by Wood then pulled the hosts within 27-23, and a short time later back-to-back Leslie buckets pushed the Wolfpack on top 31-29. Purvis followed with a slam and Duke called timeout down by four with 3:47 left in the half.
Curry's later triple forged a 39-39 deadlock, but T.J. Warren's bucket in the final seconds sent NC State to the break up by two.
Howell began the second half with consecutive baskets to give the Wolfpack a 45-39 edge, and his lay-in off the break provided a 53-45 margin less than five minutes in.
"Richard was going over the top of ball screens, finding his way to the basket, rebounding the ball," Gottfried added. "I challenged everyone in the huddle, 'Is anybody going to get a rebound besides Richard?' and he said, 'Don't worry coach, I've got them all.'"
NC State's last win over Duke came on January 20, 2010, an 88-74 home triumph ... The Wolfpack's 10-game win streak and 3-0 start to their ACC schedule match similar marks last attained in 1988-89 ... Duke has still won 26 of the last 30 meetings ... Warren finished with 10 points for the victors ... Duke's Amile Jefferson fouled out after posting 10 points, four rebounds and a pair of blocks.
01/12 19:24:41 ET