Williamson, Barrett power Duke past Wolfpack

NC State Duke Basketball-1
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Duke's RJ Barrett (5) celebrates after a score while North Carolina State's Torin Dorn (2) looks on during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Seward)

NC State Duke Basketball-2

Sports Writer

Saturday, February 16, 2019

DURHAM — With 15:55 left in the game on Saturday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke’s Zion Williamson let a 3-pointer fly from the right wing. It clanged left and into the hands of an N.C. State defender.

With 14:57 left in the game, on the next possession, R.J. Barrett, who finished the game with Duke’s fourth-ever triple-double, fed Williamson inside. The result was a layup and a foul.

Back to what worked.

The No. 2 Blue Devils (23-2, 11-1) let N.C. State (18-8, 6-7) hang around, but hung on for a 94-78 home victory on Saturday in front of a sellout crowd that included Floyd Mayweather and former players Grayson Allen and Tyus Jones.

With double the amount of points than he had shots, it was another high-efficiency output by Williamson that led the way.

The freshman finished with 32 points on 16 shots, making 12 of them.

One of the four misses was that shot from the 3-point line, which, at this point, seems to be the only spot on the floor he hasn’t mastered.

“If they’re playing off, I’m going to shoot every time,” said Williamson, who, throughout the season, has stressed his desire to be known as more than a dunker. “I feel like I’m a very good shooter, I’m confident, so if they’re laying off me I will shoot it.”

Even scarier for the Wolfpack, the ACC, and the country this season have been the moments when he hasn’t had to think about outside shots.

For the season, Williamson is averaging two 3-point attempts per game; the rest of his 12.6 attempts per game are coming from 2-point range, almost exclusively on dunks and interior layups.

And, overall, he’s shooting 68 percent from the floor, which adds up to his 22 points per game entering the night.

On Saturday against the Wolfpack, Williamson’s 32 points on 16 shots popped off the stat sheet, but those numbers have also been a regular occurrence.

He’s shot above 80 percent from the floor in six games, and he’s shot below 50 percent only three times. He’s also never taken more shots in a contest than he’s scored points.

In effect, his output Saturday was a microcosm of his fantastic season.

The scary part is, it wasn’t even the most prolific line of the night.

That belonged to Barrett, whose triple-double included 23 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists and zero turnovers.

“He gives us everything,” Williamson said. “When he’s going, he gives us energy, momentum.”

The Wolfpack, who were led by Torin Dorn’s 17 points, trailed by eight at halftime and at one point pulled within seven in the second half, but lacked the necessary run to fully climb back into the game.

Among the biggest discrepancies between the two teams came on the glass, where the Blue Devils out-rebounded N.C. State, 44-26; no one on the Wolfpack had more than five boards, while Barrett had 11, Cam Reddish, who shot just 2-of-15, had seven, Marques Bolden had eight, and Williamson and Javin DeLaurier both had six.

“Marques and Javin really pursued the ball,” Mike Krzyzewski said. “In the last three weeks, R.J.’s really pursued the ball, really getting so many defensive rebounds. He had nine today. We have to keep doing that. We beat a good team, but we need a day off.”

Duke hosts North Carolina on Wednesday, while N.C. State hosts Boston College on the same day.