Lorenzo Brown hasn’t practiced since spraining his left ankle in the first half of last week’s game at Virginia. His Wolfpack haven’t won since he went down.
N.C. State will look to buck that trend in the ACC’s most fearsome venue, as the undermanned Pack will likely be without its floor general for the second straight game. A program official tells Busting Brackets Brown, the top-performing point guard in the ACC, will miss Thursday night’s rematch with Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Wolfpack won the first meeting in Raleigh by eight, unseating the top-ranked Blue Devils.
“It’s hard for me to imagine he’s going to be 100 percent by Thursday night,” Gottfried said of Brown earlier in the week. “But again, I don’t know that. We’ll just have to see how he responds to treatment and if he can get to where he can plant and cut and move and sprint and jump.”
Freshman McDonald’s All-American Tyler Lewis started in Brown’s place in the team’s last-second loss to Miami over the weekend. A passing-oriented point guard with restricted physical tools, the former Oak Hill Academy product has struggled in limited action adjusting to the step-up college game.
Brown, who is averaging 12.7 points and 6.9 assists for the Wolfpack this season, has given the Blue Devils fits in the past. While he struggled shooting the ball in the first matchup this season — finishing 3-of-13 from the floor — he dished out a career-high 13 assists to power the Pack to the upset victory. Brown scored 19 points, pulled down 6 rebounds and handed out 5 assists in N.C. State’s 78-73 loss at Cameron last season. In that game, the Wolfpack squandered a 20-point lead midway through the second half.
Duke, meanwhile, will play its seventh consecutive game without injured senior stalwart Ryan Kelly. The stretch-forward has been sidelined with an undisclosed foot injury suffered in a home win over Clemson in early January. Kelly’s absence was heartfelt on the defensive end in his first game out against the Wolfpack last month. One of the nation’s premiere post defenders, Kelly was unavailable to defend Wolfpack hotshot CJ Leslie, who erupted for a game-high 25 points against the combination of Amile Jefferson and Josh Hairston.
Hairston, a junior forward and defensive specialist, will also be out for the Blue Devils tonight thanks to an arm infection.
Duke opens the game 10.5-point favorites.