After upsetting the No. 1 Duke Blue Devils in Raleigh on Jan. 12, N.C. State (16-6, 5-4 ACC) has gone 2-4 since and is looking to turn its luck around. The Wolfpack’s next opponent is the now No. 4 Duke Blue Devils (19-2, 6-2 ACC). This time, however, the Pack is heading to Durham to play Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium. After leading by as many as 20 points last season at Cameron Indoor, State lost its lead to the Blue Devils within the last three minutes and eventually fell 78-73.
The Wolfpack is coming off from a tough loss to Miami at PNC Arena. The Hurricanes, who are undefeated against conference opponents, dealt State its first home loss of the season last Saturday. After a last second tip in by Miami center Reggie Johnson, freshman guard Rodney Purvis attempted a half-court buzzer beater, but the ball bounced off the inside of the rim as time expired resulting in the 79-78 loss and the Pack’s eventual Associated Top 25 dropout.
“After the tough loss, our guys are anxious to play again,” head coach Mark Gottfried stated. “We know we are playing a really good team that is playing at a really high level right now. It is obviously going to be a challenge, but our guys are excited about it.”
State may have to work with a varied lineup due to junior guard Lorenzo Brown’s injury last week against the Virginia Cavaliers in Charlottesville. Brown leads the team in steals with 42 and in assists with 143. His 13.2 points per game ranks second on the team, however, Brown’s status for Thursday’s game is still in question.
“We will have to wait and see how he [Brown] responds to the treatment,” Gottfried said. “There is a long way to go, but we will see.”
Two of State’s three freshmen already established themselves as key players. Purvis and forward T.J. Warren each average over nine points per game with 9.8 and 11.9, respectively. Point guard Tyler Lewis saw increased minutes against Miami in wake of the Brown injury, and made his mark against the Hurricanes by scoring a season high 16 points and dishing out five assists in 36 minutes. The 16 points are the most Lewis has had in his college career.
“I do not think any of the three freshmen, at any time, have ever looked like they were afraid or cautious,” Gottfried said. “They have always been very aggressive.”
Junior forward Calvin Leslie and senior forward Richard Howell will look to carry the team to victory in one of the country’s toughest collegiate basketball venues. Leslie leads the team in points per game with 15.7, while Howell leads the team in rebounds per game, averaging 10.9 boards per contest.
The Blue Devils will try to avoid losing back to back games against the Pack since 1995. Duke is led by senior forward Mason Plumlee, who averages 17.6 points per game.
“[Duke] has gotten better and are running some new stuff,” senior forward Scott Wood said. “We are going to look at the film and we are going to see some things that we need to continue to do and build on that, but at the same time, they are still a different team, and we need to go in with the mindset that they are going to be better.”
Duke will be without senior forward Ryan Kelly, who is still out with a foot injury. The Blue Devils will also likely be without junior forward Josh Hairston, who has an infected cut on his right arm.
Tipoff at Cameron will be at 9 pm. The game will be televised on the ACC Network via CBS and is available for online streaming on ESPN3.