What's this? Depth-ladened Duke playing four starters 32 or more minutes each in a 65-49 victory over North Carolina State on Sunday?
Coach Mike Krzyzewski traced it to extra long TV timeouts, but the top-ranked Blue Devils may also be looking at a different approach following a 24-point loss to North Carolina three days ago.
"Usually we are trying to wear somebody out, they are no going to get worn out with those (long) timeouts," said Krzyzewski, whose club rebounded by getting a career-high 27 points from Roshown McLeod. "Those kids deserved to be in the ball game."
In addition to longer stretches for his starters, Krzyzewski switched his lineup that had been 7-0 before the loss to the Tar Heels, inserting Chris Carrawell and Shane Battier in place of Taymon Domzalski and Mike Chappell. Carrawell played 27 minutes, Battier 33.
"It wasn't punishment or anything like that, but it was, `Hey, let's take a look at something different," Krzyzewski said. "Certainly, Carrawell and Battier have been playing well. The other thing is it fit well for this game with their lineup."
At one point, McLeod scored 20 of Duke's 30 points as the Blue Devils (21-2, 10-1 ACC) kept pace with soon-to-be No. 1 North Carolina in the ACC regular-season title chase.
"They thought they would come out and just be physical and we would go away because of the emotional loss that we had to Carolina, but we are a tough team and we're growing," said McLeod, who made 12 of 18 shots and grabbed 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season.
"One loss is not going to define our season," he added. "We have something bigger than that one game that we want to accomplish before the end of the year. So, that's not going to make us go away. We are going to be physical and bang every possession."
The No. 2 Tar Heels defeated Georgia Tech 107-100 in double overtime earlier in the day and will likely be the nation's new No. 1 team Monday.
McLeod's previous high was 25 points against Florida State Jan. 10 as Duke beat the Wolfpack (12-10, 3-8) for the sixth time in the last seven meetings in Reynolds Coliseum.
McLeod sank 7 of 12 shots in the opening half as Duke grabbed a nine-point halftime lead. The senior then started the second period by scoring on a pair of layups, two free throws, a follow shot and one in the lane for 10 points during a 14-5 run as Duke opened a 45-27 lead with 13:37 left.
His 3-pointer two minutes later gave Duke a 20-point lead and control of the game a month after the Wolfpack had played the Blue Devils tough in Durham.
Trajan Langdon added 17 points for Duke, while C.C. Harrison led the Wolfpack with 18.
It was the second straight meeting in which the Blue Devils shut off the Wolfpack's long-range shooting. Earlier this year N.C. State was 1-for-7 from 3-point range in Durham. On Sunday, they managed only 2-for-7. And once again another ACC player hurt th Wolfpack on the inside.
"It's a familiar story line for us right now," said Wolfpack coach Herb Sendek, whose team was outrebounded 36-26. "It seems that each game one opposing inside player has dealt us a strong punch to the right cheek. Today, it was Roshown McLeod."
After a close opening 8½ minutes, Duke went on a 16-3 run as McLeod scored 10 of his 14 first-half points.
The depleted Wolfpack went without starting point guard Justin Gainey, who is nursing a sore lower back. Freshman Archie Miller started in place of Gainey, but he, Ishua Benjamin and Tim Wells were a combined 0-for-12 shooting in the opening 20 minutes as N.C. State shot 29.6 percent and fell behind 31-22 at the break.
N.C. State also lost starter Kenny Inge with 9:31 left after he fouled out.
Miller had made at least three 3-pointers in each of his last five games, but was shut off from outside as the Wolfpack's main ballhander.
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