N.C. State shook off a brutal start to outscore Duke in both halves in an 84-79 upset of the No. 2 Blue Devils Thursday night in the ACC Tournament quarter-finals. They’ll square off against Virginia in the semi-finals Friday night at 9:30 p.m.

Here’s how the night started for the Pack:

Missed jumper by Casey Morsell
Turnover by DJ Burns
Missed layup by Jayden Taylor
Turnover by Burns
Missed 3-point jumper by Mo Diarra
Turnover by Diarra

But despite coming away with no points in their first six possessions, typically a recipe for a double-digit deficit when playing Duke, we saw the game scoreless. Duke finally broke the deadlock with two free throws but Michael O’Connell broke the scoring drought with a 3-pointer and the game was on.

State led by as many as seven points in the first half but then Kyle Filipowski started to take over. He had six points and an assist in a 2:09 stretch. But then he picked up his second foul with 5:26 left in the first half and had to go to the bench.

The Blue Devils had a 4-point lead when Filipowski sat and State closed the half with an 11-4 run. DJ Horne hit a runner in the paint to give the Pack a 35-32 lead. Horne was knocked to the floor on the play and should have gone to the line for an old fashioned three-point play but no foul was called.

The second half started much better for the Pack, as they scored the first six points, which allowed them to have breathing room for much of the half. Duke was able to cut the deficit to a basket at 10:48 but that was as close as they would get the rest of the game.

A Diarra layup with 3:32 remaining gave State an 8-point lead. But after terrific performances from the free throw line in the first two games of the tournament, the Pack scuffled with their free throws in this game, specifically Diarra, who missed four of five fouls shots down the stretch.

If that wasn’t enough, Ben Middlebrooks missed a dunk and was called for a technical foul for hanging on the rim, which turned out to be a 3-point turnaround.

But even with these gifts down the stretch, Duke couldn’t pull off the comeback.

Horne, who was held to eight points when the teams played 10 days ago, led a balanced State attack with 18 points. And it was another big game for Diarra, who despite his troubles at the charity stripe, finished with 14 points, 16 rebounds, 4 blocks, 3 assists and 2 steals.

State split two games against Virginia during the regular season. They played probably their best game of the regular season in a 16-point home win. Virginia defended its home court with an overtime victory. It would have been nice if Boston College had won against Virginia, as they’ve played since Tuesday, just like the Pack. But Virginia advanced with an overtime win.

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