Plumlee lifts Duke past NC State
WASHINGTON >> A bloodied and broken nose was not about to stop Marshall Plumlee.
Plumlee had a tiebreaking three-point play with 1:14 left, then helped force a turnover, and 19th-ranked Duke overcame a second-half deficit against North Carolina State for the third time in three meetings as the reigning NCAA champion pulled out a 92-89 victory in the ACC Tournament's second round Wednesday.
"Marshall's been a great emotional leader for us all year long. And we know how tough he is. We know he battles down there in the post," said Grayson Allen, who had 19 points and six assists for the Blue Devils. "So to see him come in, and he's got blood dripping down his face, and he's still out there, yelling like a maniac — I mean, it fires the team up."
Duke (23-9) will face defending ACC tournament champion Notre Dame in the quarterfinals. The Fighting Irish beat the Blue Devils in last year's semifinals.
Wednesday's contest was a free-flowing, fast-paced, entertaining game with plenty of offense — and plenty of painful-looking collisions, including involving Plumlee's nose and, separately, N.C. State guard Anthony "Cat" Barber's right elbow. There hadn't been an ACC Tournament regulation game with this many points since Duke topped Maryland 104-84 in the 1990 quarterfinals.
One measure of just how much these teams scored at will: Both had shooting percentages above 60 percent in the first half, which ended with the Wolfpack ahead 53-50. In all, there were 18 ties and 21 lead changes. Eight players ended up in double-figures.
"We shot the heck out of the ball — and it's a good thing we did," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "It's the best we've played offensively in about three weeks."
N.C. State already had played Duke tight twice this season. On Jan. 23, the Wolfpack led 43-36 at halftime at home before losing by 10. And in the rematch at Cameron Indoor Stadium two weeks later, Duke again trailed in the second half before winning by eight.
"We just couldn't get over the hump," said Barber, the ACC's leading scorer, who banged his arm on the court while he and Allen chased a loose ball in the second half but still finished with 29 points.
Barber was treated on the sideline and missed a minute of game action before returning with a white sleeve on his right arm; he had an ice pack on his elbow after the game. He missed some free throws late, including after Allen was whistled for a flagrant-1 foul after grabbing at the back of Barber's jersey on a fast break.
Later, after Plumlee scored the game's final points, Barber drove the lane but was confronted by the 7-footer, and N.C. State lost possession.
"We've just got to be able to score that ball," Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried said.
Freshmen Brandon Ingram and Luke Kennard scored 22 points apiece for Duke, while Plumlee contributed 17 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks.
As for whether Plumlee might wear a protective mask against Notre Dame, Krzyzewski said he doubted it would be necessary and joked: "I'm an authority on noses. That's one thing I know a lot about — at least big noses. ... He would probably want to wear something, knowing Marshall, but we'll see."
Asked whether he will declare for the NBA draft or came back to N.C. State for his senior year, Barber said: "That's something I'm going to have to sit on and think about it with my family." Said Krzyzewski: "Barber's been a great, great player. Not a good player. A great player. He not only produces points, but he produces attention."
N.C. State: Barber came with a league-leading eight games of at least 30 points. ... F Abdul-Malik Abu had 19 points and nine rebounds.
Duke: Came into the ACC Tournament having dropped three of its past five games, with losses against Louisville, Pittsburgh and North Carolina. ... Ingram played 40 minutes, but said he doesn't think fatigue will be a factor going forward, noting: "I'm still young."
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