The Wolfpack didn’t walk away with a win in their first road game of the season, but they didn’t look one bit scared losing to Cincy 68-57 in a hostile road environment.
Going up against a bigger, stronger more experienced Bearcats team, the Wolfpack looked hungry, they looked together, but they looked young. Cincinnati came out of the gates very physical and applied end to end pressure to the young NC State backcourt. Overall, I felt like Lewis, Barber and Lee were able to navigate through it without much problem. State only finished with 8 turnovers, but the press did get them out of whack offensively. Once across the midcourt line it seemed hard to slow it down and really get into a good offensive set.
Despite that, Gottfried’s guys played so hard all night. They hustled, they scrapped and they banged in the paint with a much more mature Cincinnati team. It was easy to be proud of them on this night. TJ Warren had an off game and still finished with 13 points (on 5-15 shooting) and the bigs, while young, held their own in the paint.
State was tied at the half and looked at times like they could pull away form Cincy. The crowd never let that happen though, as they created a pretty hostile environment that the Bearcats really fed off of. Ralston Turner’s 13 points on four 3s really kept State in the ballgame, but 7-0 run midway through the 2nd half was the beginning of an avalanche that the young Wolfpack couldn’t stop. Cincy rode out the win 68-57.
Our Take on the game
Defense/Rebounding- I thought State did both of these things pretty well, given their current circumstance. I know they were out-rebounded and I know Cincy shot 39%, but I was proud of them here. There were very few times when guys just let their man go uncontested to the rim. Last year dribble penetration and weak perimeter D was a huge problem. This year I think it won’t be nearly as bad. Dez Lee is a great on the ball defender and Cat Barber will keep learning to use his quickness to stay in front. Even Tyler Lewis did an alright job. At the end of the day it seems like bigger guards will give NC State a little trouble. Cincy’s Kilpatrick showed us that first hand as he dropped 21. Overall, not bad though. I was really impressed by TJ Warren’s rebounding (he finished with 10) and I think Lennard Freeman was outstanding on the boards and in the paint defensively. He had 5 boards in 23 minutes and really was mixing it up with the Cincy bigs. While tonight showed us some positives, there is a TON to work on and improve. They need to work on not fouling, not reaching, and taking charges. But the hustle, the passion, the heart and the team-first attitude was there from start to finish.
The Offense- Kind of what I expected here. Cincy applied great pressure and while State didn’t fall apart and turn it over a bunch, the press was effective. It sped up the whole team, got them rushing, and then they weren’t able to recover in their halfcourt sets. Some of this was because freshmen simply didn’t know how to play against this type of pressure and physicality. The UCLA offense is dependent on that first pass to get it started. Cincy was denying the wing and the high post guys (who were mostly always freshmen) weren’t sealing properly and giving the PG’s a nice target. This caused a few turnovers and deflections. It really made the guards hesitant to dump it to the high post, which is the money spot for this offense, and made the flow off the offensive look stagnant. Gott will certainly toughen these guys up and make them understand what sealing off their man actually means. Other than that stuff, I thought State looked good. They actually have guys that can knock down open shots, they share the basketball and get easy looks. Sure, shots didn’t fall in the 2nd half and there were big periods where they had trouble getting things going, but this was the 2nd game of the season for the youngest team in the ACC in a hostile road environment against a team of upper classmen and an all-american candidate.
Physicality and Toughness- I think we all knew coming in that the Bearcats were going to be very physical and very tough. What we didn’t know is how State would react. I think it was a positive step for them. They played as strong as they could, they mixed it up inside and they definitely left it all on the floor. All that being said, this team needs to get stronger. This team isn’t full of bouncy athletes so they’re going to have to make their living being tougher than opponents, scrapping more, and showing more hustle. Tonight was a nice step and a good sign, but they aren’t even close to the level of physicality they’ll need to bring night in and night out in the ACC. Lewis still needs more lean muscle. He’s a wizard with the basketball and he’s overcome everything people throw at him, but there are parts of his game that are still hindered by his size. He needs to get to where he wants to go, and against a strong team like that he sometimes has trouble. I think another 10 pounds of lean muscle would go a long way in his game. Barber simply needs to put on weight and Lee, while he’s lost weight this offseason, could use to put a little more muscle on (however he’ll be alright with where he’s at). As for the bigs, I think Freeman showed me the most in this one. He is so hungry in there and such a fighter. He’s got soft hands and has shown not one ounce of fear this season, despite being the youngest player on the team. I think he’s going to fill that Richard Howell role at some point. He’s got such a monster frame and once he grows into it… watch out.
Overall- This might have been a loss, but I think you have to be somewhat happy with the type of basketball you saw played. Team first, passionate basketball. This is a young team that has a LOT to learn and they will get there. This team has a lot of exciting pieces. The only problem is that those pieces are still very young and need experience. This team will turn the corner around midseason and really surprise some people. Overall, I give this game a thumbs up since it was only the second real game most these guys have played and because it was in a hostile road environment.
NC State 84 BC 78: BOX SCORE
NC State is a Slight Underdog in ACC Opener vs. Boston College
NC State (4-2) will play their first ACC game of the 2023-24 season tomorrow on the road against Boston College (5-2), and they enter the game as slight underdogs. The Wolfpack are 1.5-point underdogs, and the Total is 150.5.
- NC State is 0-2 Straight Up as underdogs
- BC is 4-1 Straight Up as favorites.
- NC State is 2-4 Against the Spread.
- BC is 4-3 Against the Spread
- The Total has gone Under in 2 games for NC State, Over in 3 and Pushed in 1.
- The Total has gone Under in 3 games for Boston College and Over in 4.
- NC State is 6-4 in their last 10 games against BC Straight Up.
- NC State is 4–6 Against the Spread in their last 10 games against BC.
- The Total has gone Under in 5 games, and Under in the other 5.
#5 NC State 70 Vanderbilt 62: BOX SCORE (with notes)
The 5th ranked NC State Women’s Basketball team improved to 8-0 tonight, defeating Vanderbilt 70-62 in the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge.
- Saniya Rivers scored 20+ points for the 2nd time this season, scoring 22 points on 8 of 14 shooting. She also chipped in 8 rebounds and 2 steals.
- River Baldwin posted her first double-double of the season. She scored 12 points and grabbed 10 boards.
- Aziaha James has now scored in double figures in 7 of 8 games, scoring 14 points tonight, shooting 6 of 10 from the field and 2 of 3 from beyond the arc.
- Freshman Zoe Brooks led the Pack in steals (4) and assists (4).
- NC State didn’t shoot well, making only 39% of their shots. Fortunately, they held Vandy to 34.3% shooting.
The Wolfpack will host Illinois State on Sunday at 2pm.
NC State Stat Leaders Heading into the ACC Opener vs Boston College
This Saturday, NC State heads to Boston College for the now-annual early ACC opener. The Pack will face off against the Eagles at 4pm on ACC Network. Here is where the team is statistically after 6 games.
- Casey Morsell leads NC State in scoring with 14.5 ppg.
- The Pack has 4 double-digit scorers this season. Morsell (14.5), Jayden Taylor (13.3), DJ Burns (13) and DJ Horne (11.2)
(Last season State had 4 double-digit scorers as well. Terquavion (17.9), Joiner (17), Burns (12.5) and Morsell (11.8))
- After their top 4 scorers there is a big dip. Parker comes in at 6.8, O’Connell at 6.3, and Middlebrooks at 5.5 ppg.
(Last season Jack Clark was 5th on the team in scoring at 9 points and Mahorcic was at 8.7. However, both guys missed a large chunk of the season.)
- Burns is leading NC State in rebounding this year at 5.3 per game. Diarra is next with 5.3 (but is currently hampered by an ankle injury.)
- O’Connell is leading NC State in assists with 3.3 per game, and Burns is up next with 2.5. PG DJ Horne is only averaging 2.
- LJ Thomas and Mike O’Connell are tied in leading the team at .15 assists per minute.
- Jayden Taylor is leading NC State in 3pt %, shooting an outstanding 45.8%, while Morsell is up next at 34.6%. Horne is close behind at 33%.
(LJ Thomas is shooting 50% from 3, but only has 2 attempts.)
- Burns is leading the bigs, shooting 56.5% from the floor, while Middlebrooks is close behind at 54.2%. Dennis Parker Jr is coming in at 45.2%.
- For the guards, it’s Casey Morsell leading the way at 44.6% from the floor, while O’Connell is next up at 43.4%. Taylor is shooting 42.4%, and DJ Horne is struggling a bit, shooting just 34.8% from the field.
- Jayden Taylor is turning the ball over the most at 1.8 times per game, while Burns is next at 1.7. Morsell is at 1.5 and O’Connell is at 1.2. DJ Horne has been doing a good job of protecting the basketball, turning it over just .3 times per game.