Duke Basketball: Defense Will Fail Blue Devils Once Again vs. NC State

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Duke Basketball: Defense Will Fail Blue Devils Once Again vs. NC State
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The last time Duke faced NC State, the Blue Devils lost their first game of the season, giving up 84 points in the process.

Looking ahead to Duke's rematch with the No. 19 Wolfpack on Feb. 7, the result will likely be similar.

The Blue Devils have averaged 78.0 points per game this season, 14th in the nation, according to ESPN. They've also shot 46.7 percent, 30th in the country.

But it's the other side of the ball that has gotten Mike Krzyzewski's squad into trouble. 

Duke has not only allowed 63.5 points per game this season (99th in the nation), it has also allowed opponents to shoot 40 percent from the field (60th), according to TeamRankings.com. On top of that, the Blue Devils don't force a lot of turnovers (88th in opponents' turnovers per possession) and they don't rebound the basketball very well (205th in opponents' offensive rebounding percentage).

Against NC State on Jan. 12, the Blue Devils allowed the Wolfpack to shoot 51 percent from the floor, including 4-of-8 from downtown.

In the blowout loss to Miami on Jan. 23, Duke allowed the Hurricanes to shoot 57 percent from the field, including 9-of-19 from three-point range. 

The Blue Devils were also out-rebounded in both losses.

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Interestingly enough, some of this has to do with the absence of forward Ryan Kelly, who is battling a foot injury. According to RealGM's Dan Hanner, Duke has allowed nearly 13 points per game more with Kelly off the floor this season.

While the senior has never been labeled a lockdown defender, he has good size (6'11", 230 pounds), he moves well, he's versatile and he has displayed solid defensive technique and positioning.

And you can forget about Kelly making it onto the court for the rematch against NC State. He's out indefinitely, per ESPN.

There is some hope for Duke on Feb. 7. The Wolfpack have lost three of their last five games, including a 58-55 defeat at the hands of unranked Virginia on Tuesday, and star point guard Lorenzo Brown is battling an ankle injury (he's labeled "questionable" for Saturday's clash with Miami, via Sporting News).

But the fact of the matter is NC State has generally been one of the nation's best offensive teams this season, and I find it hard to believe Brown will miss the game against the Blue Devils.

The Wolfpack are not only averaging 78.6 points per contest this season (11th in the nation), they are also shooting 50.3 percent from the field (fourth in the country, per TeamRankings.com). 

Unless Brown misses the game on Feb. 7, the Blue Devils don't have the defense to topple NC State.

 

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