Duke Basketball: Report Card Grades for the Loss to NC State

David AldridgeFeatured ColumnistJanuary 13, 2013

Duke Basketball: Report Card Grades for the Loss to NC State

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    Duke's undefeated season came to an end Saturday afternoon with an 84-76 loss to No. 20 North Carolina State.

    The top-ranked Blue Devils played the game without senior forward Ryan Kelly, and ultimately had no answer for C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell of the Wolfpack.

    The win moved NC State to 3-0 in the ACC, marking the first time they have been 3-0 in conference play since the 1988-89 season. It's a sign this program is back among the ACC's best.

    Here are the grades for the Blue Devils from this tough defeat.

Quinn Cook: B-

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    Cook played a solid all-around game for Duke before fouling out in the game's closing seconds.

    He finished with 17 points, seven assists and three rebounds, but it wasn't one of his more efficient performances. Cook was only 6-of-16 shooting the ball, including just 1-of-6 from the three-point line.

    The sophomore point guard was able to harass NC State's point guard, Lorenzo Brown, into a 3-of-13 shooting performance. Brown still managed to dish out 13 assists.

    Once Seth Curry went down with an injury Cook did everything he could to pull off the comeback, but ultimately fell short.

    Cook provided the solid, steady play he has given Mike Krzyzewski all season at the point guard position.

Rasheed Sulaimon: D

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    The offensive woes continued for Rasheed Sulaimon, as the freshman from Houston, Texas is in the midst of a terrible shooting slump.

    Sulaimon finished the game with four points, all of which came from the free-throw line. He was 0-of-10 from the field. Sulaimon is getting open shots, but he's been unable to knock them down.

    In my pregame keys for Duke, I addressed how Sulaimon would need to score in order for the Blue Devils to win against NC State. He turned out to be a non-factor on the offensive end.

    It was another bad offensive game for Sulaimon, who has now had a string of bad offensive performances. He's 9-of-40 shooting in his last five games.

Seth Curry: A-

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    Seth Curry was Duke's best player in this game and kept his team within striking distance until late in the second half.

    Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, Curry went down with an injury after slipping on a wet spot that appeared to be well suited for a Redskins home playoff game.

    Prior to the injury, Curry seemed to hit every big shot the Blue Devils needed to keep the Wolfpack from pulling away and turning the game into a blowout.

    Curry finished the game with 22 points and went 5-of-10 from beyond the three-point line. He also brings a tremendous amount of confidence to this Duke team.

Josh Haiston: B

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    Starting in place of Ryan Kelly, Josh Hairston gave Duke solid effort and production in his 18 minutes of play.

    Hairston finished the game with eight points and four rebounds, staying very active around the basket on the offensive end.

    Hairston couldn't provide the quality defense Duke typically gets from Kelly. He also struggled to match up against C.J. Leslie, who was unstoppable down the stretch as he racked up 25 points. However, as the Preseason ACC Player of the Year, CJ Leslie is talented enough to give most defenders problems.

    Playing in a hostile environment on the road against a great team, Mike Krzyzewski has to be very pleased with what he saw from Josh Hairston.

Mason Plumlee: A-

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    Mason Plumlee was a rock for Duke against the Wolfpack, but it still wasn't enough.

    Plumlee played all 40 minutes and ended the game with 15 points, 11 rebounds, four steals and two blocks.

    However, Plumlee was unable to keep Richard Howell off the boards for NC State, who finished the game with 18 rebounds.

    Plumlee's play in the first half was huge for Duke as he was a force on the glass, giving the Blue Devils numerous opportunities on the offensive end. He also showed some strong post moves in the half-court offense, which he hasn't been able to do in his past three games.

Bench: B

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    With his strong performance against NC State, Amile Jefferson may have emerged as a potential starter for Duke while Ryan Kelly is injured.

    Jefferson gave Duke great productivity from off the bench, picking up 10 points and five rebounds.

    However, the energetic freshman will need to learn to play defense without fouling in order to become a major contributor for the Blue Devils. Jefferson fouled out after only 12 minutes of play.

    As good as Jefferson was, Duke didn't really get anything else from the bench. Tyler Thornton fouled out without scoring a point with his only significant play being when he fouled Scott Wood on a made three-point attempt and then was part of a double-technical after the play.