Johnson, Daniels help NC State rout No. 6 Duke 88-66

Duke guard Tre Jones (3) guards North Carolina State guard Markell Johnson (11) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Raleigh, N.C., Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Markell Johnson scored a career-high 28 points, including his third halfcourt shot this season, to help North Carolina State to beat sixth-ranked Duke 88-66 on Wednesday night.

Devon Daniels added a career-high 25 points for the Wolfpack (17-9, 8-7 Atlantic Coast Conference), who led by 15 at halftime and by as many as 27 late in a surprisingly lopsided win against the ACC-leading Blue Devils (22-4, 12-3).

It was a desperately needed marquee win to boost the NCAA Tournament resume for the Wolfpack, who never trailed on the way to extending Duke’s recent frustrations in Raleigh. Duke has now lost six of eight in PNC Arena dating to 2010, with five of those coming against the Wolfpack and one being an NCAA Tournament loss to Mercer in 2014.

Vernon Carey Jr. scored 27 points to lead Duke, which shot 38% and struggled both at the line and from the arc. The Blue Devils made just 4 of 17 3-pointers and 10 of 22 free throws, part of an all-around shaky showing that included a complete inability to slow Johnson and Daniels in the first half.

The two combined for 33 first-half points to single-handedly outscore the Blue Devils (29), the last coming when Johnson banked in a runner from just beyond halfcourt for a 44-29 lead at the break.

Duke got as close as 11 with about 11 minutes left, only to see Johnson answer with a 3 then D.J. Funderburk follow with a three-point play to push the margin back to 67-52 with 8:31 left.

The lead only grew from there, with Wolfpack fans storming the court to celebrate when the horn finally sounded.

BIG PICTURE

Duke: The Blue Devils hadn’t lost since falling to Clemson and current No. 11 Louisville in mid-January, moving past the Cardinals and into the ACC lead as Louisville stumbled twice last week. Yet they didn’t come out with anything approaching the same edge as the Wolfpack, getting down 10-1 out of the gate and watching that margin push well past 20 after halftime. From there, there would be no repeat of the wild comeback at North Carolina, with Duke never getting the lead to single digits after halftime.

N.C. State: N.C. State entered Monday ranked No. 60 in the NCAA’s NET rankings with a 4-3 record against Quadrant 1 opponents to top the resume. Its best win had come in December against a 10-loss Wisconsin team sitting at 30th in the NET. Now Kevin Keatts’ club has something much stronger, thanks in large part to dominating first-half performances from Johnson and Daniels on a night to put the Wolfpack in control from the jump. The team shot 45% for the game.

UP NEXT

Duke: The Blue Devils host Virginia Tech on Saturday.

N.C. State: Eighth-ranked Florida State visits the Wolfpack on Saturday.