Duke Dominates Wolfpack

Duke's Nate James reacts during the No. 3 Blue Devils' 101-75 win over North Carolina State. AP

Duke has decided to start laying the groundwork for a solid foundation in the NCAA tournament now.

After a couple of mediocre games by Duke standards, the No. 3 Blue Devils shot 53 percent, forced 24 turnovers and used a 17-0 first-half run to roll over North Carolina State 101-75 on Sunday.

Jason Williams, coming off a pair of season-low eight-point games against Florida State and Clemson, scored 23 as Duke's starters all hit double figures.

"This is the Duke team that we're going to be," said Williams, who was 8-for-12 from the field and had eight assists. "In college basketball, you have four or five months and then it's going to be over. It feels like March is getting here quicker and quicker so you've got to live every day like it's your last when you step on the court with your team.

"You have to treat every game now like it's a tournament game. If you lose it, your season is done. That makes you play the best you can play."

Nate James added 19, while Shane Battier had 18 and Carlos Boozer 17 in front of members of the 1991 national title team, who were honored at halftime.

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Game Summary

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  • Duke (22-2, 10-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) had beaten the Wolfpack by just six in Raleigh a month ago, but stormed to a 20-point halftime lead and then made eight straight shots and 11 of 12 to start the second half to go up by 30 with 11:02 left.

    Battier called the game a turning point in the team's season.

    "This is the time of year a lot of teams get the February blahs," Battier said. "A lot of teams look forward to March Madness and as a result slide in February. We looked at this game as a pivotal point in getting better for March."

    Battier saw a marked difference in the Blue Devils on both end of the court.

    "We haven't been attacking," Battier said of Duke's play the last two weeks. "We had been playing like we had already earned something and got out of character by slowing it down. Today, we really pushed it up and kept firing shots. When we missed we kept firing."

    Williams and Battier had two 3-pointers each during the early second-half scoring spree as Duke made five straight long-range shots and 13-of-29 from beyond the arc for the game.

    The win keeps the Blue Devils one-game behind No. 1 North Carolina in the race for the ACC regular-season crown and gives them 51 straight victories over unranked league opponents.

    N.C. State (11-11, 3-7) was the last unranked ACC team to beat Duke, that coming in the 1997 ACC tournament. It was also Duke's ninth straight victory over N.C. State and 14th in the last 15 meetings.

    "Certainly it was thorough and complete," Wolfpack coach Herb Sendek said of the beating his team took.

    Kenny Inge, coming off a career-high 29-point game against the Cavaliers, led the Wolfpack with 16 points and nine rebounds.

    The Wolfpack was coming off a win over No. 6 Virginia and its most points (90) in five seasons under Sendek, but after making its first four shots fell apart on offense.

    N.C. State turned the ball over on 8-of-12 possessions and went 6@1/2 minutes without a point to fall behind by 22 points 11 minutes in.

    Duke got baskets from six players during its 17-0 run that broke the game open.

    "This was more like we had been playing," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "The last couple of weeks it has been sporadic. At times we've been brilliant and all of the sudden not really good at all. But most of this season we've been an outstanding team and a very potent offensive team. Today, we showed that a little bit more."

    Duke's 51-point halftime total marked the 10th time in 24 games the Blue Devils have scored at least 50 by the break.

    N.C. State finished with 24 turnovers, which matched a season high. The Wolfpack had 22, 22 and 20 turnovers in its last three games prior to Sunday.

    "That was a significant piece to us falling behind in the first half," Sendek said of his team's 16 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes. "All we can do is keep working and keep pointing out how they are occurring."


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