UNC 86 – NC State 74
Carolina used a career high 22 points from Kendall Marshall and some dead-eye 3 point shooting to take down the Wolfpack 86-74.
If you would have told Mark Gottfried that you would outscore the UNC front court and you would tie the Tar Heels in rebounds, he would have taken it and felt pretty good about his team’s chances to win. What he wouldn’t have been expecting was a red hot shooting night from the Heels worst shooter, Kendall Marshall.
Marshall was outstanding tonight, finishing with 22 points, 13 assists and zero turnovers. The Wolfpack doubled down on the post and were intent on stopping Zeller and Henson from beating them but the Carolina guards stepped up and knocked down 53% of their looks from long range.
While UNC was filling it up, State had trouble finding their rhythm offensively. Scott Wood only managed one 3 pointer and Lorenzo Brown, while scoring 18 points, went 6-21 from the floor. The bright spot, however, was Calvin Leslie. The sophomore forward played the best game of his Wolfpack career, notching 24 points and pulling down 12 boards.
State made a huge run to eliminate the Heels 10 point lead late in the 2nd half, but that was the last time they’d be within striking distance. UNC held the lead the rest of the way and brought home the victory.
The Fans: We released an article this past weekend asking the fans to step it up. They did not disappoint. This was the rowdiest, most insane bunch of fans I’ve seen in a long time at the RBC. The signs were funny, the outfits were outrageous and the volume was turned up. Even the UNC players noticed.
“State fans are the rowdiest fans in the ACC I’ve seen.” said John Henson to the Fayetteville Observer after the game.
“At Duke it’s like ‘We really dislike you.’ Here it’s like, ‘We hate you.” Barnes said. “It different from Duke. It’s a hate. It’s a distaste. They don’t want to see us.”
I really respect the way the Wolfpack fans showed out tonight. If the RBC rocked like that every game the RBC would be one of the most feared place to play in the nation, without a doubt.
Calvin Leslie: Leslie was a monster tonight. I thought he played hard and smart all night. He never forced the issue and he attacked UNC’s weaknesses. When he caught the ball he faced up every time and made Henson guard him, something he wasn’t able to do. He really took Henson’s shot blocking ability out of the game and exploited his slower feet. Leslie is becoming the star that we all knew he could become and they need him to keep it up. With 3 games left State needs to win out and Leslie needs to carry the load.
Lorenzo Brown: I thought Brown played with great passion tonight. He didn’t shoot the ball well but he played in attack mode and that’s what State needed if they were going to win. He played strong and he never let up one bit. I think if Brown had an on night shooting that State may win this game. Brown finished with 18 points and 4 assists.
Scott Wood: The days of Wood getting open looks in this offense are long gone. He hasn’t had one in 3 games and for State to win they need him getting clean looks. The problem is that he is well scouted. Roy Williams said that they keyed on Wood and he was a point of emphasis in the game plan. The defenses have countered and now it’s for Wood to do the same. He needs to adapt. He needs to get craftier and NC State needs to find new ways to get him the ball. Wood had 3 points tonight and only shot the ball 5 times. That can’t happen. Wood will either have to extend his range or get comfortable doing a little more off the dribble. If he can’t adapt then State is doomed. They don’t have a substitute for him and when he’s off NC state struggles to score.
Richard Howell: Speaking of adaption, Richard Howell did a great job of using his pump fakes and pivot foot in this one. Last time out Henson ate Howell for lunch, blocking nearly everything he put up. Tonight Howell created space and got Henson and Zeller off the ground with pumps and pivots. He was looking a little like Ben McCauley out there tonight. The downside for Howell tonight was his fouls…Again. Sir Rich, we need you. We cannot win with you on the bench. Use your strength and your weight to move you defender, but when he gets the ball please stop reaching. If they score they score. The team would rather give up 2 points than have you unavailable for half the game.
Moving On: This was a tough game, one that NC State needed to play almost perfect in to win. It didn’t happen, but all is not lost. If State can win against Clemson then they have what may end up being a virtual tournament play-in game against Miami at home. If they win out I still think they’re tourney bound, but one more slip up and it’s all over for a team that really has shown some positive signs this season.
Highlights Courtesy of ACC Network