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N.C. State takes care of No. 1 Duke, 84-76

The SportsXchange

RALEIGH, N.C. -- North Carolina State's C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell didn't hide the fact that facing top-ranked Duke was a big deal for the Wolfpack.

They showed why.

Leslie scored 25 points and Howell had 16 points and 18 rebounds as the 20th-ranked Wolfpack knocked off previously unbeaten Duke, 84-76, in an Atlantic Coast Conference game on Saturday at sold-out PNC Arena.

"We've talked about this game," Howell said. "Everybody has talked about this game."

There will be plenty more talk after N.C. State, the preseason favorite in the Atlantic Coast Conference, further validated its status.

A wild storming of the court ensued after N.C. State (14-2, 3-0 in the ACC) extended its winning streak to 10 games, it's longest in 24 years. It's the Wolfpack's first 3-0 ACC start since the 1988-89 season.

"We came out to this game knowing we could win," Leslie said. "We didn't come out to compete and say, 'We almost had it.' We came to win."

Duke (15-1, 2-1), appearing on an opponent's court for the first time this season, was playing its first full game without injured forward Ryan Kelly.

Seth Curry scored 13 of his 22 points for the Blue Devils in the second half, but left because of an injured left ankle with 3:15 to play and the Blue Devils trailing, 73-67.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski said the injury does not appear to be serious.

Still, the perfect record came to a halt.

"There's going to be hiccups," Krzyzewski said. "I'm not asking for anyone's sympathy; that's just the way it is."

Quinn Cook scored 17 points and Mason Plumlee added 15 points for Duke, which had the third-best start to a season in school history come to an end.

Scott Wood, who had 14 points for the Wolfpack, said he knows the Blue Devils were short-handed, so the senior guard stopped short of calling it the most-significant victory of his college career.

"It's tough because they're not 100 percent, so it's tough to say it's the greatest," Wood said.

N.C. State, which game in shooting 53 percent from the field to lead the nation this season, shot 50.8 percent (30-for-59).

Five players scored in double figures for the Wolfpack, which made amends for squandering a 20-point lead on the road and losing in last season's only meeting between the teams.

"We felt like we owed them from last year, blowing a 20-point lead," Howell said.

This time, N.C. State held a 49-41 lead after Howell scored six points off rebounds in the first four minutes after halftime, doubling his offensive production from the first half.

Duke pulled within 58-57 on Curry's 3-pointer before the Wolfpack scored the next nine points for its largest advantage at 67-57 and Duke never caught up.

"Whenever they looked like they were going to knock us out, we came back," Krzyzewski said.

But playing from behind for most of the game took a toll on the Blue Devils.

After trailing by five early, the Blue Devils built a 27-19 edge, aided by transition baskets.

Wood hit his third 3-pointer, this time as he was fouled and converted a four-point play. On the play, Wood and Duke's Tyler Thornton were assessed technical fouls, marking Thornton's third foul of the game.

That began N.C. State's 14-2 run to surge into a 33-29 lead, causing the Blue Devils to use a timeout.

Curry's 3-pointer tied the game, 39-39, before T.J. Warren's runner gave the Wolfpack a 41-39 halftime edge.

Duke reserve Amile Jefferson scored eight points in the first 15 minutes, more than in his previous four games combined. The freshman finished with 10, hindered by picking up his fourth foul with 14:46 left and fouling out at the 8:07 mark.

NOTES: N.C. State is 6-27 all-time against No. 1-ranked teams. The last victory came in February 2004 at home against Duke. ... Duke had been in six neutral-site games this season before to its first true road outing. ... Junior forward Josh Hairston started for Duke in place of injured Ryan Kelly. It was his third career starting role, with the other two coming last season. Hairston posted a season-high eight points. Kelly averaged 13.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. ... Duke's school-best starts to seasons of 17-0 came in 1991-92 and 2005-06. ... N.C. State was Duke's fourth nationally ranked opponent this season. ... The rematch is Feb. 7 at Durham.
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