No. 20 NC State answers critics in upset of No. 1 Duke; more hoops
As the seconds ticked down on the Wolfpack's biggest win in years, ESPN's Dick Vitale posed one of the few questions that still remained about this team at midseason: Do they rush the court?
Most of the other unknowns surrounding NC State going into this game had been emphatically answered: Could the Wolfpack, picked to finish first in the ACC for the first time in nearly four decades, take advantage of their home floor and a hobbled opponent and finally deliver a performance worthy of that expectation? Could preseason ACC Player of the Year C.J. Leslie show a little killer instinct and take over a game? Could emerging senior star Richard Howell continue his string of eye-catching performances?
Yes, yes and yes.
Leslie, a 6-foot-9 forward who leads the team with 16.2 points a game, scored 25 points, including six straight during a crucial second-half stretch. Howell, a rebound hound whose team-leading 10.4 rebounds a game include 3.4 O-boards, had 16 points and 18 rebounds, including six off the offensive glass. And they weren't the only 'Pack players with huge games: junior guard Lorenzo Brown had 12 points and 13 assists while senior forward Scott Wood had 14 points, including three three-pointers. Together the four of them went 8-for-8 from the free throw line in the final 40 seconds.
The Blue Devils felt the absence of second-leading scorer Ryan Kelly, who went out with a foot injury earlier this week. Seth Curry kept the game close by delivering 22 points, including-back-to-back three-pointers that cut the 'Pack's lead to 58-57 with about 10 minutes to go. But once
The 'Pack's upset victory, its 10th straight win after buzz-killing November losses to Oklahoma State and Michigan, gave NC State its first 3-0 ACC start since 1989. More than that, it gave NC State and its fans a rare trifecta of satisfaction. They vanquished a previously undefeated team, that happened to be the No. 1 team in the country, that happened to be hated Duke. Hell yes, they rushed the court.