Plumlee, Duke's 3-point shooting prove a double whammy

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

DURHAM, N.C. -- All that hot outside shooting for Duke eventually came around to helping Mason Plumlee to a big night, too.
The fourth-ranked Blue Devils hit from the perimeter in building a large lead and went on to defeat North Carolina State 98-85 in an Atlantic Coast Conference game on Thursday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Plumlee, a 6-foot-10 forward, scored 30 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the field for Duke, which avenged what was then its first loss of the season last month.
"We came out strong," Plumlee said. "If we can keep doing that, that's huge. We have to stay hungry and kept the momentum we have going."
The Blue Devils made 10 shots from 3-point range in the first half, helping reduce some of the defensive pressure on Plumlee.
"It made us really hesitant to go double Plumlee because they were hitting those shots," N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said, "It was a catch-22 for us."
Duke's Seth Curry scored 18 of his 26 points in the first half and Quinn Cook ended up with 21 points. Cook was 4 of 4 on 3s in the first half.
N.C. State (16-8, 5-5), the preseason ACC favorite, lost its third game in a row and dropped into sixth place. The Woflpack hasn't won at Duke since the 1994-95 season.
Duke (20-2, 7-2), which improved to 12-0 at home this season, reached the 20-win mark for the 17th consecutive season and for the 29th time in 33 seasons under Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Richard Howell, who fouled out with 3:41 left on an offensive foul, scored 23 points to lead five N.C. State players in double figures. The Wolfpack trailed by 22 points three minutes into the second half but closed to 84-75 with 4 1/2 minutes left.
Cook hit a jumper for Duke before Howell fouled out on the next possession.
The Wolfpack had a possession to cut a 91-82 deficit, but Plumlee blocked C.J. Leslie's shot.
"Your best player makes big plays," Krzyzewski said. "That's a winning play."
The Wolfpack, which last year was unable to hold a 20-point lead when visiting Duke, was within 76-64 with slightly less than 10 minutes to play.
"In the second half, we played a grind-it-out game," Plumlee said. "It's hard to shut them out completely. You have to play through it. It's easier to play through when you have the lead."
N.C. State's previous four ACC losses came by a combined seven points. This was the Wolfpack's first game as an unranked team this season.
Leslie added 16 points for N.C. State, which played its second game in a row without starting point guard Lorenzo Brown (ankle injury).
Duke adjusted while playing without injured forwards Ryan Kelly and Josh Hairston.
"We've gotten better at using our personnel around us," Cook said. "We go deeper."
Duke notched a season-high first-half point total in shooting to a 58-37 halftime lead.
"The intensity was unbelievable," Gottfried said. "They were awfully good early and we weren't."
The Blue Devils hit seven of their first 11 attempts from 3-point range in taking a 41-21 lead with seven minutes left. The Wolfpack scored the next eight points.
"They definitely made some tough ones, but we gave them some open ones that they got some confidence," said N.C. State guard Scott Wood, who scored 14 points.
Earlier, Duke built a 25-6 edge as N.C. State went through a stretch of missing 11 shots in a row before Scott Wood drained a 3-pointer.
Duke freshman Rasheed Sulaimon, who was 0 of 10 in the first meeting with N.C. State, converted a three-point play on the game's first possession. He hit a 3-pointer on Duke's next possession as part of the Blue Devils' 11-2 opening burst.
Sulaimon's second 3-pointer created a 16-5 edge. He finished with 11 points.
Cook picked up his second foul barely 2 1/ 2 minutes into the game, but he returned to heat up from the perimeter.
Howell was stuck with his second foul with 14:06 left in the first half. His point total was his highest in an ACC game. His previous best was 18 points last year at Duke.
"I thought both teams were attacking really hard," Gottfried said.
NOTES: Brown, the ACC's active leader in career assists with 494, had a streak of 59 consecutive starts end when he didn't play Saturday against Miami. ... Hairston, a junior forward who was a starter and scored eight points in the first meeting with N.C. State, had played in all 21 previous games this season. He developed an infection from a cut on his right arm sustained during last week's game at Wake Forest. He played Saturday at Florida State before the problem apparently arose. ... Kelly, who's out indefinitely with a foot injury, sat out both games against N.C. State -- his hometown team -- this season. The senior forward is from Raleigh. ... This marked the seventh time in a row that Duke was ranked in the top 5 when N.C. State visited. ... Duke has been ranked in the top 10 for 107 consecutive weeks. Sunday night's game at Boston College will mark the 200th in a row for the Blue Devils as a member of the top 10.

What to Read Next