NC State didn’t look too sharp for the first 20 minutes against Georgia Tech on Thursday night, but as they have done most of the season they were able to grind out the victory with tough defense and solid execution on their way to a 61-52 victory.
CJ Williams kept the Wolfpack afloat in the first half with some sharp shooting (finishing with 15) and CJ Leslie helped out with 13 to help State avenge their home loss to GT earlier this season.
Georgia Tech took control early with some stingy defense and some strong rebounding, but the Pack went onto a 13-3 run to close the half and never looked back.
The Wolfpack’s defense improved late in the second half and carried over to the 2nd, as did the rebounding . State held GT’s Glenn Rice to only 15 points but only shot 6-16.
The Wolfpack went on a 13-3 run late in the first half to claim their first lead since the opening minutes.
NC State’s achilles heel early on this season was perimeter defense, however as of late it’s gotten a lot better thanks to the play of CJ Williams. Tonight the Pack had one of their best performances in that category holding GT to only 1-16 shooting from 3. (GT hit nine 3s in their first meeting)
Another key state for NC State was that in the 2nd half they only turned the ball over 3 times after turning it over 7 times in the first half. Unfortunately Brown had another poor game in that category with 4 turnovers.
Scott Wood, who had hit 55 free throws in a row missed 3 in a row tonight, ending his quest for the NCAA record.
PLAYER OF THE GAME:
CJ Williams. The senior guard played great tonight, bailing State out everytime they needed a bucket. Williams finished with a team high 15 points and even added in 6 rebounds.
KEY QUOTES (Mark Gottfried)
“What I thought was key for us is what was just mentioned, the defense at the end of the half and the second half. Inside of our defense is that our rebounding improved. The first half, we weren’t very good. When you look at the first half, the only way I think they were in the game is their offensive rebounding. We weren’t doing a good job of finishing the defensive possession.”
“That was the crux of halftime, I said ‘ We are guarding them well enough, but we are giving them a second shot and scoring.’ Every shot they had in the second half was around the rim. We corrected that and I thought we did a nice job. They had some open threes they missed, but we also had a hand up on a lot of them. We made it a little bit tougher 3point attempts for them. Our defense and rebounding was much better today and that was the difference in the game.”
“Rice did not have a big game. Udofia did not have a big game. You look at our team again, you have balanced scoring, shot distribution pretty even. We had the shot right here in the corner, we were up nine and I think with about 2 or 3 minutes to go, and Scott Wood, I thought would be the dagger and he missed it. I’d pay him to take that over and over again. We found a way to get it done at the end of the game. We are really proud of our guys right now.”
“I thought his energy was terrific. He scored on the break and took it all the way one time and I thought a couple times he made his mind up in the post where he had the ball, and he’s going to make a basket. ’I'm going to get this thing in the bucket no matter how I’ve got to do it.” Defensively, he was pretty good.”
“Now, the game changes now (with a tough stretch ahead). We are a little greedy. We are going to slug it out all the way until the end. We got a group of guys right now that have a lot of confidence. They play really well together. That’s one thing you have to like about this team. They share the ball, they pass the ball. We have found ways to grind out some wins so far.”