Duke Basketball: Mason Plumlee Needs a Huge Game Against NC State

Jeffrey SakakibaraContributor IIFebruary 7, 2013

WINSTON-SALEM, NC - JANUARY 30:  Codi Miller-McIntyre #0 of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons watches as Mason Plumlee #5 of the Duke Blue Devils reacts to a call during their game at Lawrence Joel Coliseum on January 30, 2013 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The last time these two teams faced each other, Duke was the No. 1 team in the nation, and NC State was ranked 20th. Both teams have fallen in the rankings since then, but Duke will look to avenge its loss of about a month ago.

NC State snapped Duke’s 18-game winning streak and exposed the Blue Devils' transition defense. Duke needs to convince NC State and fans alike that their transition game was a thing of the past.

If Duke can keep NC State’s offense at bay, Duke’s offense needs to step up and get points on the scoreboard. Mason Plumlee needs to be that player that steps up.

Plumlee scored an average 15 points in their last encounter, but he must be the leading scorer in tonight’s match-up.

Plumlee will need to show the same offensive dominance he displayed against Wake Forest, scoring a career high 32 points. As a senior, he’ll also need to keep up the momentum and concentration of the freshmen players.

Rasheed Sulaimon has been a great role player in the Blue Devils' lineup, but his inconsistency and lapses in concentration cause him to be a liability at times. Plumlee will need to keep Sulaimon focused and poised if Sulaimon appears to be having a bad shooting day.

Sulaimon went 0-10 against NC State, and that definitely needs to change. Being the third leading scorer on the Duke roster, Sulaimon is a difference maker, and he must play like it if the Blue Devils are to defeat the Wolfpack.

Sulaimon goes on streaks; whether that streak becomes an off shooting day or a shooting clinic will depend heavily on Plumlee’s leadership role.

Tonight’s matchup against NC State should be a routine win for Duke if Plumlee and Sulaimon are offensive threats in this game. Learning from the previous matchup, Duke has addressed problems during fast-break situations, and it will be interesting to see if anything has really changed.

Plumlee recorded just one assist against NC State, and that definitely lead to Duke’s offense being much too predictable. If Duke increases ball movement through its centerpiece in Mason Plumlee, NC State will have a hard time containing the Duke offense.