Monday January 14, 2013

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Top-ranked Duke kept attacking the glass, pulling down offensive rebounds and getting extra baskets to hang around early against North Carolina State. The Blue Devils just couldn’t keep it up after halftime.

After scoring 16 second-chance points in the first half, Duke had just two offensive rebounds after the break. It was a big reason why the No. 20 Wolfpack stayed in control the entire second half on the way to an 84-76 victory Saturday.

Duke had 11 offensive rebounds in the opening half, but managed just two -- both led to 3-pointers from Seth Curry -- the rest of the way. Starting center Mason Plumlee had all four of his offensive boards in the first half.

The Blue Devils played without starting forward Ryan Kelly because of a foot injury, forcing junior Josh Hairston into the starting lineup while pushing freshman Amile Jefferson into a bigger role. Those two combined for nine rebounds.

By comparison, N.C. State’s Richard Howell had 18 rebounds and six on the offensive glass, four coming after halftime.

For N.C. State, Leslie scored 25 points, including six straight during a key second-half run.

Howell added 16 points in a relentless performance for the Wolfpack (14-2, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) in a matchup of the teams predicted to finish 1-2 in the league.

Curry scored 22 despite missing the final minutes with an ankle injury for Duke, which shot 45 percent and hung around early by crashing the boards for second-chance baskets.


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But the Blue Devils had no answer after halftime for Leslie and Howell, a duo that helped the Wolfpack lead all second half.

With his team protecting a 58-57 lead, Leslie went to work, knocking down a jumper then getting past Josh Hairston in the lane for another bucket. On the next possession, he muscled the ball up between two defenders, and soon the Wolfpack pushed its biggest lead to 67-57 with 7:44 left.

The Blue Devils got no closer than four again, with Leslie scoring over Plumlee inside to answer the Blue Devils’ last push with 1:41 left. The Wolfpack closed this one out confidently, hitting eight straight and 9 of 10 free throws in the final minute to stay in front.