DURHAM, NC - JANUARY 23:  Head coach Mark Gottfried talks to Dennis Smith Jr. #4 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack during their win against the Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium on January 23, 2017 in Durham, North Carolina. North Carolina State won 84-82.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Three Takeaways from N.C. State’s win over No. 17 Duke


Freshman Dennis Smith Jr. had a monster performance as he scored 32 points and had six assists to lead the Wolfpack past No. 17 Duke for an ACC road win.

Here are three takeaways for an important win for N.C. State.

1. This is the Dennis Smith Jr. (and N.C. State) that we envisioned 

Before this season N.C. State received a lot of hype with some pundits — including NBCSports.com — because people knew that freshman Dennis Smith Jr. was a lottery pick talent and there were other pieces around him that could be productive. Smith has mostly lived up to his top-five hype this season but Monday night’s game saw the North Carolina native go to another level.

Smith comes from a family of N.C. State fans. It is part of the reason he selected the Wolfpack even though they aren’t a one-and-done factory like some other schools. The Wolfpack hadn’t won in Cameron Indoor Stadium since 1995 and this year’s N.C. State had lost four of five ACC games entering Monday.

And Smith went completely bonkers. He finished with 32 points and six assists as he was 4-for-6 from three-point range.

At the end of the first half when it looked like Duke might take a double-digit lead into the break, Smith converted a three-point play and followed it up with a tough, contested three to make it a six-point game. The second half saw more of the same from Smith as he nailed pull-up threes, got to the rim and finished through traffic. It was the type of mesmerizing performance that gets casual basketball fans excited about a player before March Madness begins.

Smith wasn’t the only good player for N.C. State on Monday. Freshman big man Ted Kapita gave crucial minutes inside as he registered his first career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Abdul Malik-Abu was a great secondary option for Smith as he contributed 19 points and nine rebounds. Maverick Rowan (nine points) hit a key late three and some important free throws.

When this team has all of its pieces going you can see why so many people believed N.C. State was capable of the Sweet 16. It feels like this team could be in for a run and the road game at Louisville on Sunday is another major test.

2. Duke is still figuring out its ideal rotation (while getting some answers)

Interim coach Jeff Capel went to some interesting lineup choices on Monday night. Capel started the game by using the lineup that jumpstarted Duke’s second half against Miami. That meant increased minutes for freshman center Marques Bolden as he was paired with Jayson Tatum (16 points) and Frank Jackson.

Seniors Matt Jones and Amile Jefferson were the interchangeable parts who played the most minutes in the first half for the Blue Devils and the second unit included Grayson Allen (13 points), Luke Kennard (20 points) and Harry Giles.

The Blue Devils still have some disjointed sets and scorers are still struggling to play with Tatum at times but there were some promising signs. Giles (eight points, seven rebounds) continues to improve his natural timing and he knocked down a face-up jumper from 17 feet with ease that could help keep defenders honest on him.

There was some good but there was also some bad. Bolden regressed to being a non-factor once again and Allen struggled to find a consistent scoring touch with a 4-for-13 performance.

We still have yet to see the (mostly) full strength Blue Devils that make us believe they are a national title contender. It’ll be interesting to see which lineup ultimately plays the best for Duke but they’re struggling to figure out a consistent rotation.

3. Can N.C. State sustain this kind of effort on a nightly basis?

Monday night was N.C. State’s first road win of the season. So for as big as this win is, the Wolfpack still have a long way to go to becoming a consistent factor in a ridiculously deep ACC. Smith is going to get tested quite a bit by Louisville’s length and athleticism on Sunday and playing in front of that Cardinal crowd is one of the hardest things to do in college basketball.

It doesn’t get any easier for N.C. State and they can’t have a major letdown after the high of a road win like this. That losing stretch of four out of five games included some really bad losses. Boston College, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest are the kind of losses that tournament teams can’t sustain on a regular basis so the Wolfpack have to take care of  business against teams like that for the rest of the season.

Success on the road will also help N.C. State’s tournament cause. This Duke win is nice but now the Wolfpack get two more cracks at top-15 teams away from home with Louisville and Florida State in the next two weeks. If N.C. State can somehow split those road games and stay strong at home they’ll be in good shape the rest of the way.

North Carolina and N.C. State postponed due to weather.

Roy Williams
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

North Carolina and N.C. State’s game that was scheduled for Saturday has been moved to Sunday at 1 p.m.

The game was moved one day due to dangerous road conditions thanks to sub-freezing temperatures.

Here is the announcement from the ACC.

(H/t: Andrew Carter)

N.C. State freshman forward Ted Kapita ruled eligible by NCAA

(Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer via AP)
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N.C. State received some good news for its frontcourt rotation on Friday as the NCAA declared freshman forward Ted Kapita eligible, according to a release from the school.

The 6-foot-8 Kapita was a summer recruit for the Wolfpack and the former four-star prospect will be immediately eligible to play.

“The NCAA conducted a thorough, and thoughtful evaluation of Ted’s complete situation,” N.C. State Director of Athletics Debbie Yow said in the release. “We appreciate their diligence in reaching this outcome.”

Kapita will be able to play during N.C. State’s next game on Sunday when they host St. Francis College.

It’s been an interesting journey to eligibility for Kapita as he was committed to Arkansas in the Class of 2015 before not getting a qualifying test score to enroll. It was then rumored that Kapita signed with the AmeriLeague — which never materialized — but Kapita denied ever signing any kind of professional contract.

Returning to high school at DME Academy in Florida as a Class of 2016 recruit, Kapita committed to former head coach Larry Brown and SMU in February, only to decommit in June.

Kapita quickly found his final destination and committed to N.C. State as he gives the Wolfpack another intriguing frontcourt player.

“I’m very happy for Ted,” N.C. State head coach Mark Gottfried said in the release. “He’s been patient through this process and I look forward to him getting back on the floor.”

VIDEO: Dennis Smith Jr. electrifies N.C. State fans at team’s scrimmage

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(Photo by Kelly Kline/Getty Images)
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N.C. State freshman point guard Dennis Smith Jr. excited fans with some absurd plays at the team’s Primetime with the Pack event last night.

The highly-touted, five-star prospect is the most electric prospect to come to the Wolfpack in years and Smith had the crowd buzzing with some highlight-reel dunks during the team’s 20-minute scrimmage.

Smith made one teammate look silly by putting it between his legs and throwing down a vicious dunk during one play while he also threw an alley-oop to himself to finish another break.

(h/t: Ball is Life)

VIDEO: N.C. State’s Dennis Smith throws down sick practice dunk

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N.C. State point guard Dennis Smith Jr. is one of the freshmen to watch this season as he’s recovering from a torn ACL.

Any questions about Smith’s health and explosiveness should have been answered with his big performance at adidas Nations in August but he continues to make big plays during workouts to start the school year.

Off a lob from teammate Terry Henderson, Smith threw down a ridiculous under-the-legs dunk from the side of the backboard.

It should be really exciting to see Smith play this season as he has the potential to be a top-five draft pick if he puts up good numbers.

Four-star combo guard becomes NC State’s fourth 2016 commit

Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer via AP
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With Cat Barber moving on to the professional ranks and freshman Dennis Smith Jr. returning to the court after missing all of last season with a torn ACL, adding another player capable of handling some point guard duties would help NC State in 2016-17. Monday afternoon Mark Gottfried’s program received a commitment from a player who can help the Wolfpack on the perimeter, as combo guard Markell Johnson announced that he’ll be joining the ACC program.

Johnson, who announced the news via his Twitter account, is a 6-foot-1 guard who’s ranked 40th in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.com. Johnson announced that he would reclassify from the 2017 class to 2016 in early May, and as a result many high major programs intensified their pursuit of the Cleveland, Ohio native’s services.

Johnson played with the King James Shooting Stars grassroots program during the spring on the Nike EYBL circuit. His commitment gives NC State a second option in that role along with Smith, and as noted above Smith is comign off of a torn ACL.

“Markell Johnson is an explosive athlete with a great first step and he should step in and form a tough backcourt duo with fellow incoming freshman Dennis Smith,” noted NBC Sports recruiting analyst Scott Phillips. “Johnson can be shaky with his perimeter jumper and decision making, but he’ll be very tough to keep out of the paint and his commitment gives the Wolfpack another guard who can make plays off the dribble.”

Johnson joins Smith, forward Darius Hicks and center Omer Yutseven in NC State’s 2016 freshman class. And after there was a great deal of concern regarding the NC State roster in the immediate aftermath of the 2015-16 season, thanks to a combination of transfers and NBA Draft early entrants. But with Abdul-Malik Abu and BeeJay Anya withdrawing from the Draft and the program’s hot spring on the recruiting front, the Wolfpack have the depth and talent needed to return to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season.