No. 8 Duke rebounded from a loss and will try to build on that against another in-state Atlantic Coast Conference rival when NC State visits Durham, N.C., on Saturday afternoon.
Part of the storyline is the availability of Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski, who missed Duke’s 76-64 victory at Wake Forest on Wednesday with what the university called a non-COVID virus.
“We can’t wait to get our leader back,” said Jon Scheyer, the associate head coach who filled in for Coach K against the Demon Deacons.
There were other new looks for the Blue Devils (13-2, 3-1 ACC) in that game. Freshman AJ Griffin moved into the starting lineup, the first deviation of Duke’s first-string unit this year. Jeremy Roach came off the bench.
“AJ Griffin has just been coming on,” Scheyer said. “He’s been playing well. Really, it’s been AJ’s emergence.”
Griffin racked up 22 points and fellow freshman Paolo Banchero had 24.
“I was just prepared either way. Each game you prepare the same, and that’s to play your best with the minutes you get,” Griffin said. “It doesn’t matter if you start or come off the bench. It’s the same mentality.”
It was a good way for the Blue Devils to respond to a home loss to Miami on Jan. 8.
“I’m proud of our guys, specifically AJ Griffin, what he’s done working his tail off all season long,” Scheyer said. “He never complained for one second, worked as hard — if not harder — than anybody on our team, so to see it translate on the floor tonight is really special.”
Griffin has made 13 of 26 3-pointers across the last seven games.
Banchero was aggressive throughout the latest game. He has six games with 20 or more points.
“I don’t think I’m giving away the nuclear codes by saying we need to get the ball to Paolo,” Scheyer said.
NC State (9-8, 2-4) has a freshman sensation, too. Terquavion Smith is coming off a 24-point effort in Wednesday’s 79-63 win at Louisville.
He has led NC State in scoring in three of the past eight games.
The Wolfpack have won seven of their last eight ACC road games dating to last season.
In the Louisville game, NC State shot a season-best 56.1 percent from the field and 48 percent (12 of 25) from deep.
“I think we are always in a position where we are scoring, but what separates us and always puts us over the hump is whether we can get stops,” NC State coach Kevin Keatts said.
The Wolfpack have won just two of their last eight games. Keatts said it’s not too late to make a move in the ACC.
“Every team in the country is going to have struggles up and down, but our guys have been in every game and have a chance to win,” Keatts said. “I’m proud of it. They’ve accepted coaching. They’ll continue to accept coaching. They will continue to fight.”
This is the only scheduled meeting between NC State and Duke this season.
–Field Level Media
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