Friday, February 1, 2008

Did Duke play the perfect half?

There’s no such thing as a perfect half of basketball, but third-ranked Duke came close with an incredible 20 minutes after halftime in a 92-72 defeat of N.C. State on Thursday at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

After trailing 46-37 at halftime, Duke scored 55 points in the second half. The Blue Devils shot 7-for-11 from 3-point range, outrebounded N.C. State 19-7 and committed just four turnovers.

“We knew the first half wasn’t us,” said Duke wing Gerald Henderson. “That’s not how we’ve been playing all year. (The second half) was probably our best half of the whole season, and the first half was probably our worst half of the whole season.”

For the second straight game, Duke won comfortably by scoring more than 50 second-half points after facing a nine-point halftime deficit. On Thursday, N.C. State was overwhelmed by the Blue Devils’ energy after halftime.

“We just turned it around,” said Duke freshman forward Kyle Singler. “This team is special. We just have something that we can’t really explain, and it’s just something special that makes this team good. We don’t really panic.”

Improvement at the point

Freshman point guard Javier Gonzalez, who’s often struggled for N.C. State this season, made progress in the loss.

Gonzalez played 28 minutes, made both of his field goal attempts and created some shot opportunities for opponents on the drive. After a shaky start by teammate Marques Johnson, Gonzalez calmed his team as N.C. State took a 46-37 lead.

A boxing aficionado, Gonzalez also showed his toughness by standing up to gritty Duke guard Greg Paulus after committing a first-half foul. Though Gonzalez committed three turnovers, two came on questionable five-second calls.

If he plays as well as he did Thursday night, N.C. State will have a chance to improve on its 2-4 ACC record.

- Ken Tysiac