For most of the game it looked like it was going to be another road loss for the Devils. The shots weren’t falling, and NC State was nearly flawless in their shots. However, Duke would not disappoint their coach, their fans, and themselves. Duke systematically clawed their way back starting with about eight minutes left in the game, and it all came down to DeMarcus Nelson on the free throw line making two to put the Devils up by one. NC State’s last effort was a half court prayer, that missed the mark. The result, Duke wins an amazing game and gives Coach K his 800th victory, and an absolute spot in history.
It was rough going for Duke for much of the game, and until late second half no one could seem to find the touch. Duke finished 38% from the field. The only thing keeping Duke close was their absolute best free throw performance of the season. An unbelievable 81% from the stripe. And when it all came down to it, solid free throw shooting and a stellar three point display in the final minutes was all the Blue Devils needed to cap off an amazing comeback for their 25th win of the season, 12th in the ACC.
Nelson and Scheyer lead the way for Duke with 19 points a piece. Three other Blue Devils were in double figures for Duke. Singler(12), Paulus(15), and Henderson(12). Taylor King had a nice showing with 6 points in 12 minutes and Zoubek finished with 4 points, 3 boards in only eight minutes. Thomas didn’t get on the score board, but did finished with 5 rebounds and only took 1 shot.
-Duke forced 17 turnovers and only committed 8 themselves
-Two of Dukes worse free throw shooters, Nelson and Henderson, were a combined 15-17. Even King was 3-5
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Not only did Nelson tie for most points in the game, but he was huge from the free throw line, his one weakness, and none bigger than the last two points for Duke that gave them the lead. He did exactly what a senior captain does.
One of the best things I saw was Duke’s final offensive possession was brilliant. Coach pounded in their head, that no matter if you make the basket or not, make sure you hit the rim. That is exactly what Duke did and forced NC State to make a quick decision with about 3 seconds left. NC State had no choice but to heave a shot that missed. The scene after the win was awesome as Scheyer ran over to Coach K and gave him a bear hug(very similar to Wojo in his playing days). This was an awesome game to win, and the way they did it showed tremendous heart and poise in the last ten minutes of the game. The entire game even when Duke was terrible from the field, they were always playing hard never letting NC State out play them. This coupled with them finally finding their shot was the reason they pulled of this amazing comeback.
Next up: Duke will have their final true road game of the season against Virginia on Wednesday. Like this game it will be another test for Duke before the UNC matchup on Saturday.