NC State vs. Miami
Feb 2nd | 4pm | Raleigh, NC
An NC State vs. Miami game has never,, in the history of these two teams meeting, ever garnered as much attention as it has this time around.
Both NC State and Miami are top 25 teams and Miami is undefeated in ACC play. They’ve manhandled Duke are on an 8 game winning streak. But today they face a real challenge in a Wolfpack team that has been playing to it’s opponents level. State hasn’t fared well against lower tier ACC teams as of late, but put them up against a ranked team or against their rival and it’s a whole new story.
Miami, however, is no easy task, and actually is the one team in the ACC that might be just as athletic and just as big as the Wolfpack. They are led by point guard Shane Larkin (son of ex-Red shortstop, Barry) who in his sophomore season, has shown that he’s one of the best , most level-headed playmakers in the conference. He’s averaging 13 points and 4 assist per game, but he’s not the only guy State has to worry about. Much like the Wolfpack, Miami can come at your from all angles. They have 5 scorers that average double digits – Durand Scott (14ppg), Kenny Kadji (13ppg), Larkin (13ppg), Trey McKinney Jones (10ppg), and Reggie Johnson (10ppg).
If Lorenzo Brown can’t play, than Miami might actually hold a real man-to-man advantage over State – something you couldn’t say for any opponent other than Michigan. Larkin is quick and heady and without Brown, Purvis and Lewis will have their hands full stopping him from getting into the lane and creating. Speaking of that, NC State’s help D hasn’t been all that great this season. They’ve lacked communication and have been slow to rotate, meaning if Larkin gets into the lane with ease, you can’t bet the Pack will be in deep trouble.
Then you have the big 2 guard and leading scorer Durand Scott. Scott is a big slasher who can really score from anywhere. And when he and Larkin aren’t hurting you, it’s Kenny Kadji the 6’11 260lb big man with a jumper. He too can score from inside or out and is going to give Leslie fits if he doesn’t concentrate defensively today. Kadji is physical and will push Leslie to move his feet and follow him outside. If he doesn’t, Kadji can reign from long range.
Foul trouble is going to be something to watch. State has a very, very thin bench, especially in the front court, and guarding Kadji and the gigantic Reggie Johnson isn’t going to be easy. If State wants to win this one their going to need to figure out how to stop these bigger opponents in the paint – without fouling. Howell is going to need to get crafty against Johnson, who is just as strong and has 4 inches on him.
Either way you spin in, the Wolfpack has a tough match today, but as we’ve seen before, they usually come out prepared in games like these – however, if they’re without Brown, I’m not sure how potent their offense will be.
If they do have Brown then I think there are a few ways to exploit Miami. They are lumbering at times and if the Pack can get out and go on the break, they can tire out the Hurricane big men. The Pack also has a player, in CJ Leslie, that is a mismatch for anyone in the game, even Kadji. Leslie is much quicker than Kadji and will force him to defend on the perimeter, which is not one of his strengths. If Leslie can face up and attack off the dribble, State will be able to get some easy points, or at least draw some fouls on some of Miami’s key guys.
Will Brown play? Can State hold down Larkin? Who will win the Leslie/Kadji matchup? Those answers will all be answered today at 4pm.