Dennis Smith lifts N.C. State to rare road win vs. No. 7 Duke

By The Sports Xchange
N.C. State's Dennis Smith. (Pack Men's BBall/Instagram)
N.C. State's Dennis Smith. (Pack Men's BBall/Instagram)

DURHAM, N.C. -- Dennis Smith Jr. attended numerous games at Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium during the recruiting process.

He probably never witnessed the type of show he put on in the building Monday night for the visiting team.


Smith, a freshman guard, scored a season-best 32 points and North Carolina State went on a huge late-game run to upset No. 17 Duke 84-82.

"I came to a lot of games here," Smith said. "I knew my guys really wanted this win and I really wanted this win."

He came up with the game-sealing steal and threw down an after-the-buzzer dunk as the celebration began.

"It was just a statement," he said of the jam and the result in general. "That's it."

N.C. State's Maverick Rowan hit three clutch free throws in the final 30.3 seconds, but his last attempt missed at the 5.4-second mark and that gave Duke a final chance. The Blue Devils never got off a shot because of Jayson Tatum's turnover, with Smith heading the other direction with the ball.


Abdul-Malik Abu poured in 19 points for N.C. State (14-7, 3-5 Atlantic Coast Conference), which hadn't won at Duke since 1995. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski also missed that game because of back surgery, much like this season.

"It's horrible," Duke forward Harry Giles said. "It's something that's not sitting right. We had our foot on their necks and we let up."

N.C. State's Ted Kapita added a season-high 14 points before fouling out with 5:17 to play.

Luke Kennard scored 20 points and Tatum added 16 points for Duke (15-5, 3-4), which shot 8-for-28 on 3-point attempts. Grayson Allen had 13 points and Matt Jones added 11 for the Blue Devils, who lost at home for the first time in 11 outings.

Tatum bemoaned his final decision.

"Probably should have kicked it ahead," he said. "That was bad, bad on my part."

The Wolfpack used an 11-0 run to claim a 51-48 lead. But Duke slowly began to pull away before scoring eight in a row to build a 64-56 edge.

Trailing 68-59, N.C. State used its last timeout with 6:35 remaining. The Wolfpack went ahead 72-70 on Smith's 3-pointer with about three minutes left to cap a 9-0 run before Kennard answered with a 3.


Abu converted another dunk and Rowan's 3-pointer kept the momentum, helping create a 79-73 advantage before a frantic final minute.

Duke lost half of its 12-point lead in the last 30 seconds of the first half, so it settled for a 44-38 edge at the break. Smith scored the last six points of the half with a three-point play and a 3-point basket.

By then, he sensed he needed to take charge.

"At the time, it had to be me," said Smith, who made 10 of 18 shots from the field and supplied six assists. "... I didn't come into the game thinking, 'I have to do great this game.' I do that every game."

Smith has reached 30 points three times this season.

"You've got to follow through on the game plan and once a guy like that gets going, it's hard to stop him," Giles said.

Duke grabbed a 34-25 lead with five different players hitting 3-pointers in the first 15 minutes. A corner 3 from Jones made it 43-32 as the Blue Devils cranked up their transition attack.

Freshman center Marques Bolden made his first start for Duke, giving the Blue Devils their eighth different starting lineup. Interim coach Jeff Capel went with the unit that began the second half with a 22-1 run in Saturday night's comeback against Miami.


N.C. State turned to Kapita, a freshman forward, for an early substitution after he hadn't played in the previous two games. He responded with four points in the first nine minutes, and his putback dunk drew the Wolfpack within 48-46 early in the second half before Rowan's go-ahead 3-pointer.

Kapita, who finished with 10 rebounds, and center Omer Yurtseven both had four fouls with more than 13 minutes remaining.

NOTES: Duke leads the series 146-100. ... Duke beat the Wolfpack three times last year, though this was the only scheduled meeting for this season. ... N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried picked up his 400th career coaching victory. ... Duke sophomore F Chase Jeter, usually a reserve, underwent a lower-back procedure earlier Monday and didn't play. He missed previous games because of an ailing back. ... Duke returns to action Saturday at Wake Forest. ... N.C. State began a stretch of three games amid a 17-day period against nationally ranked foes (with two other games mixed in), with Sunday's trip to Louisville next.

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