Duke's March Madness résumé takes a hit with upset to NC State in ACC tourney opener

Members of the North Carolina State team begin to celebrate near the end of the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the quarterfinal round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament game against Duke, Thursday, March 14, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Members of the NC State team began to celebrate their upset over Duke near the end of the second half. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

North Carolina State thwarted second-seeded Duke's pursuit of back-to-back ACC tournament championships with a 74-69 quarterfinal win Thursday in Washington D.C.

It was the first game of the tournament for the No. 11 Blue Devils due to a double-bye on account of their top seeding in the conference. They hadn't lost a conference tournament opener since 2013, and the early exit won't bode well for the team's seeding in the NCAA tournament.

The Blue Devils missed their first nine field-goal attempts of the game, which was an early indicator of offensive struggles to come. Duke sophomore Kyle Filipowski left the contest with 28 points and 14 rebounds. He led a 9-0 run in the first half but he was impacted by NC State center D.J. Burns Jr.'s defense in the second.

The Wolfpack came out strong, maintaining their momentum in the tournament from defeating Louisville on Tuesday before completing an upset win over No. 7 seed Syracuse on Wednesday. They have now won three consecutive games in the three days, a full turnaround from their previous four-game losing streak.

NC State's 5-of-11 shooting from the 3-point line helped the team establish a 35-32 lead as they entered halftime.

Starting guard DJ Horne, who is returning from injury, came off the bench to score 12 points in the first half for NC State. His scoring in the first half included a buzzer-beater to end the period. He added six more points before the game ended.

Duke never secured a lead in the second half. But It almost looked like the Blue Devils were set to benefit from an all-time collapse with 32 seconds left, as this missed dunk by Ben Middlebrook highlighted a series of late errors from NC State:

Filipowski capitalized on two missed free throws from Mohamed Diarra with 21 seconds left, notching a defensive rebound and a subsequent layup to bring the Blue Devils within two points at 71-69. The Duke big man fouled out in the final 15 seconds and sent Horne to the free throw line.

Horne made both of his attempts to bring the team up 73-69. Diarra was the next NC State player fouled, and he went 1-for-1 to complete the game.

Next, the Wolfpack will face the winner of Thursday night's quarterfinal between Virginia and Boston College.