Blue Devils' grinder keeps churning N.C. State is latest victim

January 16, 1992|By Ron Green Jr. | Ron Green Jr.,Knight-Ridder

DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke doesn't have a homecourt advantage. It has homecourt destructions.

The top-ranked Blue Devils turned North Carolina State into their latest victim, barreling past the Wolfpack 110-75 in an ACC basketball game last night in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Christian Laettner scored 23 points while Bobby Hurley and Thomas Hill tossed in 19 points apiece as the Blue Devils turned an 11-point halftime lead into a blowout early in the second half.

But that's nothing new. The Blue Devils (11-0, 5-0) have ground up every team that has set foot in Cameron this season, including all three ACC opponents. The Blue Devils' average margin of victory at home this year is 30.3 points with 18th-ranked North Carolina-Charlotte coming in Saturday at 5 p.m.

In their five league games, two of which have been on the road, Duke has won by an average of 17.5 points.

That explains the No. 1 ranking in case anyone was questioning it. Certainly the Wolfpack wasn't.

There was one noteworthy stat for the Wolfpack, aside from Tom Gugliotta's 22-point performance. N.C. State led the game for a total of 53 seconds. That's not much, but the Wolfpack became only the fourth team to lead the Blue Devils at any point in a game this season. In 445 minutes of basketball, Duke has trailed for 13 minutes, 43 seconds.

Once the Blue Devils got their defensive intensity stoked and settled into an offensive rhythm, what had been a gutty effort by the young Wolfpack turned into another Duke showcase.

"We just wanted to take care of business, go hard and get a victory. It wasn't a big emotional game for us," said Hurley after Duke had posted its biggest win over N.C. State since 1967.

Duke didn't build a comfortable working margin until the latter part of the first half when it went on a 14-4 run keyed by Hill and Hurley, who scored 12 points apiece in the first half.

The Wolfpack had cut Duke's lead to 31-30 when Hurley tore through the Wolfpack defense for a layup, drawing a foul in the process for a three-point play. After a Brian Davis free throw, Hill scored on a layup then drilled a three-pointer as Duke stretched its lead to 40-32 and was on its way to a 48-37 halftime lead.

The last 2:09 of the first half was played in a dimly lit arena when a portion of the Cameron lights failed. The problem was remedied at halftime.

Wolfpack coach Les Robinson, who was worried that Duke's double-digit halftime lead would bruise his team's fragile confidence, had his worst fears realized early in the second half. After the Wolfpack (7-6, 1-2) scored the opening basket of the half, Duke took over. The Blue Devils scored eight straight points to force an N.C. State timeout to deal with a sudden 17-point deficit.

But the Wolfpack couldn't stop Duke once it incorporated Laettner into the offense. He scored 17 second-half points as the Blue Devils continued their habit of burying their ACC opponents in the second half.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski was particularly pleased with the play of both his Hills.

Thomas Hill hit eight of 11 shots from the field. Grant Hill drew the assignment of shadowing Gugliotta, the ACC's leading scorer. Gugliotta scored 13 in the first half before Krzyzewski made a minor defensive adjustment to aid Hill when Gugliotta worked his way to the baseline.

"We made Gugliotta work for every one," Krzyzewski said. "I love who he is and how he plays. That's why I put my best overall defensive player on him."

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