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NC State shocks Duke to reach Final Four as Cinderella run continues

The team representing the state of North Carolina in the Final Four of the men’s NCAA Tournament is not the Tar Heels or the Blue Devils. 

It’s the NC State Wolfpack. 

The No. 11-seeded NC State squad’s Cinderella journey continues, as they upset No. 4 Duke on Sunday night, 76-64, to move on to the Final Four in Arizona.

The Wolfpack will take on the No. 1-seeded Purdue Boilermakers for a spot in the national championship game. 

This is the first time NC State has reached the Final Four since 1983 when they won the national championship under legendary coach Jim Valvano. 

NC State’s victory came in the second half, where they outscored Duke, 55-37, after being down 27-21 at halftime. 


DJ Burns Jr., the Wolfpack’s big man in the paint, was smiling from ear to ear in the second half as he had his way with the Blue Devils. Burns led NC State with 29 points on a highly-efficient 13-for-19 with four rebounds and three assists. 

Guard DJ Horne was also getting the job done in the second half, using his speed to blow past the Blue Devils’ defense, scoring 20 points on 7-of-16 from the field. 

While the Wolfpack couldn’t miss in the second half, the Blue Devils started going cold. 

The game was tied at 38 apiece with Burns hitting a jumper with 12:22 left in the second half. But once Horne knocked down a jumper of his own to take the lead with 11:49 left, NC State didn’t let the lead slip away. 

NC State went on a 15-4 run, which led to a 53-42 lead with 6:56 left to play. The Wolfpack faithful in Dallas were raucous, recognizing that their team was in full control of the game. 

DJ Horne drives to basket

Duke couldn’t buy a bucket as the half continued to tick down on the scoreboard, with leading scorer Jared McCain, who had 32 points, Jeremy Roach and Kyle Filipowski not being able to score like they had earlier in the tournament. It also didn’t help that Filipowski fouled out with less than five minutes to play. 

McCain and Roach were able to make some layups down the stretch, but Duke’s full-court press never worked, as NC State got those points right back with easy buckets. 

On the stat sheet, Duke shot just 32.2% from the field and 25% from three-point territory, while NC State was 46.7% from the field. 

Filipowski fouled out with just 11 points, as he shot 3-of-12 including 0-of-3 from beyond the arc. Roach had 13 points on 5-of-13 shooting, while Tyrese Proctor went 0-of-9 which included five missed threes.  

DJ Burns Jr. and Ben Middlebrooks celebrate on court

NC State has a tough task ahead with Purdue, especially big man Zach Edey who dropped 40 points against Tennessee earlier on Sunday to book their Final Four ticket. But the Wolfpack continues to shock their opponents, starting with No. 6 Texas Tech and most recently No. 2 Marquette in the Sweet 16. 

No. 1 UConn and No. 4 Alabama are the other Final Four matchup, both of which will be played at State Farm Stadium on April 6. 

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