RALEIGH, N.C. — In a season full of shockers in college basketball, Mike Krzyzewski had a fairly mundane explanation for the latest astonishing score, a 22-point bludgeoning of sixth-ranked Duke at the hands of bubble-bound NC State.
“It happens,” the Blue Devils’ coach said after Wednesday’s 88-66 loss. “This isn’t an Xbox game. It’s a human being game.”
Never mind the rather horrific history Duke has endured at PNC Arena in recent years or the aggressive approach NC State brought from the opening tip. The reality, Krzyzewski said, was simply that the Wolfpack played excellently, and his team was fairly indifferent about the outcome.
“Sometimes when you’ve eaten a lot, you’re not as hungry,” he said of his team, which fell to 22-4 on the season and 12-3 in the ACC. “Our team obviously tonight didn’t feel like they needed the win. You have to stay hungry while you’re winning at that level because we’re not a team at that level, we’ve just won that many games and tonight we were not competitive.”
While Duke was on cruise control, NC State was at a point of desperation after a road loss to Boston College likely had the Wolfpack (17-7, 8-7) on the outside fringes of the NCAA tournament bubble. That desperation translated into a dominant effort, including three players with 21 or more points in the victory.
According to ESPN Stats & Information research, the game marked the first time an unranked opponent beat a top-10 Duke team by at least 20 since 1979, and the stunning result had students storming the court in the aftermath.
The win against Duke buoys NC State’s résumé significantly, however, and coach Kevin Keatts said he sees his team squarely in mix for the season’s stretch run.
For Duke, Krzyzewski suggested the outcome was perhaps a good reminder to his team that its record didn’t guarantee future success, particularly with a roster that’s more about depth than superstar talent this season.
“We’re not that good,” he said.” We’re good, and we’ve accomplished very good. But we don’t have the consistency with really good with every player.”