Having lost to Duke four straight times last season because it could not handle center Mike Gminski, North Carolina State came into Cameron Indoor Stadium today determined to stop the 6-foot-11 All-America.
The Wolfpack stopped Gminski. But State still got blown away, 67-56, by the Blue Devils because Duke's guards took advantage of State's sagging defense and the Wolfpack went 11:50 of the first half without a point.
"We knew we had to provide an outside threat," said Duke guard Vince Taylor. "We hadn't been doing that and defesnes were just sitting back on Mike and Gene (Banks.)"
With the Wolfpack pinching back on Gminski and Banks, Taylor came through with 18 points and point guard Bob Bender added 12.
"I haven't been looking for the shot or looking to go inside," Bender said.
"I hadn't been on the foul line for 10 games. Today, I got there six times."
Bender and Taylor's offensive performances and a clawing, double-teaming defense were the keys, along with Banks' 18 rebounds, as fifth-ranked Duke raised its record to 3-2 in ACC play and 14-2 overall. State, 16th-ranked, is now 3-2 in the league and 11-3 in all games.
"We just had one of those days," said State Coach Norm Sloan. "They were playing a very active zone, getting good movement and we couldn't get the ball inside. Outside, we just couldn't get anything to drop.'
From the 17:48 mark of the first half until 5:58 remained, State could not have thrown the ball in the ocean from a rowboat. During that time, Duke was not much better offensively but did manage to score 17 points to take a 19-4 lead before Hawkeye Whitney, the game's high scorer with 25 points, finally broke the drought with a jump shot.
From that point on, State never reduced the margin under 10 points and only under 13 in the final minute. Every time State tried to make a move, Duke's guards made a shot or Banks grabbed a rebound.
Despite a five-of-17 shooting day, Gminski, the leading scorer in the ACC with a 23.2 average, still managed 15 points and 12 rebounds.
"It was just one of those games where my shots weren't dropping like they normally do," said Gminski, who was decked several times by the aggressive State players in an extremely rough game. "Nine times out of 10, I make those shots."
"You don't figure us to win easily on a day when Mike shoots five for 17," Bender said. "But we got the game into transition and that helped our overall play."
If ever there was player born for transition basketball, it is Taylor. The 6-5 sophomore has superb speed and moves the ball upcourt with such long strides that once he gets going, he is extremely difficult to stop.
His one weakness -- he is averaging 10.7 points a game -- has been an inconsistent jump shot. Today, he popped two 15-footers early and forced State to play him honestly. Once the guards began protecting the outside game, Taylor went right by them, making seven of 12 shots, handing off three assists and setting up teammates on the line several times.
"We got off to a super start and we got running," said Duke Coach Bill Foster, who always wants his team in a transition game. "Vince played within himself well. He didn't force anything, just did the things he does well."
Duke had four players in double figures, Banks adding 16 to the totals of Gminski, Taylor and Bender. After Whitney, Art Jones was high for State with eight points. No one else had more than four, including Clyde Austin (three), who was taunted by Duke students because of recent stories concerning his ownership of two cars. Each time Austin touched the ball or went to the foul line, the Duke students waved car keys at him en masse.
"I didn't pay any attention," Austin said. "I just tried to play."
He didn't do very well but he wasn't alone. As a team, the Wolfpack shot 27 percent the first half and 33 percent for the game. Duke, which led by as many as 19, wasn't much better, shooting 45 percent -- its third consecutive game under 50 percent.
"We had some adversity, especially Mike," said Foster. "But it's a super win for us, especially with Kenny Dennard out." Dennard has a deep thigh bruise and has missed two games.
"Our start did it," Bender said. "We played great defense and stuck a couple from outside. After that, it was just a matter of not letting down with a big lead."