The roller-coaster ride that has been NC State's season again hit a climax on Saturday night.
Only three days after a disheartening 30-point loss to Notre Dame in South Bend, the host Wolfpack nearly hung 100 points on second-ranked Duke to get their first ACC victory of the season in stunning fashion, 96-85.
It's the second time this season Kevin Keatts' squad has topped a No. 2 team -- the last one coming back in November when the Pack dealt then-No. 2 Arizona its first loss of the season at the Battle 4 Atlantis. And it's the first time since 1995 that NC State has dealt Duke back-to-back losses.
"I challenged those guys the last couple days that if we had a chance to win the game, we had to do a great job of winning the rebounding battle, and I thought we did that," Keatts said.
Duke's setback (13-2) was largely because of a poor defensive effort. NC State made 50.7 percent of its field-goal attempts and knocked down crucial 3-pointers to keep the game out of reach late.
The bottom line is that 96 points -- under any circumstance, really -- isn't up to snuff for a team ranked second in the polls. But it seems to be somewhat of the norm for Duke, which has now given up 80-plus points in eight of its 15 contests this season.
Even in the loss, Duke freshman Marvin Bagley III proved to be stellar again -- 31 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. He went up against NC State 7-footer Omer Yurtseven, who had 16 points and nine rebounds before fouling out in the final minutes. However, Bagley's effort wasn't enough to help the Blue Devils avoid the upset, which dropped them to 1-2 in ACC play.
Entering a brutal four-game stretch that includes a road trip to Virginia and tilts against Miami and Clemson, this was a major momentum builder for the Wolfpack. Winning two of the next four will be a stiff challenge, but for NC State to again snag a stunner and get on the board in ACC play is big for the team and even bigger for the program Keatts is building.