Manny Bates’ season-ending shoulder injury left in the middle of the NC State defense was clearly visible on Saturday when Duke big man Mark Williams skillfully took advantage of it.
A 7-1 sophomore center, Williams scored 19 points while grabbing 11 rebounds with eight blocked shots to lead the No. 8 Blue Devils to an 88-73 victory over the Wolfpack in ACC basketball at the Cameron Indoor Stadium.
The 6-11 Bates, a redshirt junior, led the ACC in blocked shots the past two seasons and was considered the best defensive big man in the league. The shoulder dislocation he suffered in November took away a weapon the Wolfpack certainly needed on Saturday.
Williams’ production was part of a great day of offense for Duke (14-2, 4-1 ACC). The Blue Devils shot a season-high 58.3% and made the majority of their scoring near the basket. Duke finished with 58 points in the paint, with Williams providing the bulk.
“I think our big guys did a great job,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “Mark almost had a triple double and he finished strong all day and Theo (John) gave us a boost. Really good by our team.
Paolo Banchero, Duke’s 6-10 freshman forward, scored 21 points while grabbing eight rebounds for the Blue Devils. Duke’s 6-9 reserve center Theo John scored a season-best 10 points.
Freshman guard Trevor Keels also had a productive day with 12 points, nine assists and five steals for Duke. Junior Wendell Moore’s 15 points gave Duke four double-digit starters.
Partly because Williams turned away so many shots to help Duke post the season’s top 10 blocked shots, NC State only shot 41.3 percent overall. The Wolfpack only managed to hit 5 of 19 3-pointers.
Terquavion Smith led NC State (9-9, 2-5 ACC) with 19 points, and Dereon Seabron added 16 points.
“I thought our guys were fighting and playing hard, but they didn’t do everything the right way,” NC State coach Kevin Keatts said.
NC State shot a healthy 47% in the first half but was slowed by 2 of 10 3-pointers. The Wolfpack built two early seven-point leads at 9-2 and 15-8 before Duke launched their attack. A 9-0 run, with Keels overturning a Griffin miss and later hitting a pull-up, put the Blue Devils ahead.
NC State took its final halftime lead when Seabron drove in Duke basket keeper Jeremy Roach for a layup that gave the Wolfpack a 21-20 lead.
But Duke responded with six straight points on a Griffin 3-pointer, a free throw from Joey Baker and the basket from Williams on a lob pass from Baker.
NC State moved up to four points twice afterward, including 38-34 with 2:26 left on Smith’s field goal. But Duke closed the half on a 7-2 run. Keels hit another 3-pointer, Moore scored a layup in transition, and Banchero added a slam dunk on a pass from Roach to give Duke a 45-36 halftime lead.
The Blue Devils extended their lead to 19 points in the second half, leading 66-47 after a Williams-fueled flurry after halftime.
This story was originally published January 15, 2022 3:59 p.m.