After a poorly played first half NC State got it rolling early in the second and never looked back, trampling Eastern Kentucky 75-56.
TJ Warren scored 30 points, added 11 boards and saved State in the second half. EKU obviously knew the scouting report against the Pack. They came out in a zone and really slowed the pace of play. Early on State seemed confused, settling for 3’s and playing tentatively against the zone. Gottfried certainly addressed that at the half and the Pack came out aggressive after the break. Warren led the way, but it was quick ball movement and hitting the gaps in the zone that got them rolling, leading to a 19 point win.
We apologize for the delayed coverage this weekend. All of us here at PackInsider.com are out of town with our families for Thanksgiving. We’ll be back at it on Monday with ‘Out Take’ on the Wolfpack. Thanks for understanding!
In the meantime, here are some quotes from Coach Gottfried:
“First off, I think this a good win for our team because that might potentially be an NCAA Tournament team. Obviously, Belmont in their league is very good, but they have a great chance to win their league. They are a really good team with terrific guards. They go a really good job of changing defenses to keep teams off balance. I was really proud of our guys. I thought in the second half we attacked the zone much better. I thought that was the difference in the game. Defensively we are a little bit better. In the first half, we struggled against the zone. We didn’t move it nearly as well as we should have. We didn’t get the ball inside or penetrate the zone very well. In the second half, the ball moved a lot better and we got inside the zone. We attacked pretty well. This is a good win for our team against a good basketball team.”
On attacking the zone:
“They play two different defenses. I thought in the first half we were very cautious. It became paralysis by analysis. We were trying to figure out what defense they were in instead of just playing it. I thought in the second half we were aggressive. We got the ball moving better and our people moving better. Then we were able to find some gaps because we were more aggressive. (In) the first half we seemed real tentative trying to figure out how to attack it rather than really getting the ball moving quicker and getting the zone shifting. In the second half we were a lot more aggressive and much better.”
On T.J. breaking out in the second half after a slow first half:
“I thought he did what good players do. He had that aggressive nature during that stretch when the score was 51-49, he took it over. He did a great job, that is what you want your good players to do, step up and be aggressive and he did.”
On Cat Barber’s growth:
“I thought as the game went on he got better. He is so quick and he can penetrate so well that he got into trouble a couple of times tonight against a team that is leading the country in steals. They are really good at knocking the ball loose if you are loose with it. For every part of the game with him he just keeps getting better and better. He is learning our offense and what to run. He is getting confident. He is starting figure out when to move the ball. That is a feel as a point guard. His quickness and ability to get to the rim is something we want him to use a lot.”
On the expanded role of Jordan Vandenberg:
“We’ll see. I don’t think of it in those terms as minutes. I just want him to be productive. He changes things with his length. Tonight he got his hand on a rebound a knocked it out of there just because he was long enough to put his hand on it. We ended up with a rebound. Our guys have figured out if we put the ball up there by the rim he is pretty good at getting up there and making it. When you look at the way he affects things defensively and the way offensively he scores right around the rim. He made a nice couple of passes and I think he does a good job rebounding too. I think he has given us a great lift these last two games.”
On 3-point shooting:
“I think we are a better 3-point shooting team than we are showing. I think we have guys capable of making them. I like the fact that we are finding ways to score against the zone that is not moving the ball two or three passes and making sure Scott Wood is open. That was a pretty good offense last year. We don’t have that this year. I think our guys are learning they are doing a good job of figuring out how to attack the zone without one of those guys like that. Although we do have some guys that can make 3s. I think Cat, Tyler, TJ, Ralston and Desmond can make them. We just have to find those spots and get better against the zone. We are going to see a lot of zone this year. We better get better at it or we are going to have some long nights.”
On new guys picking up offense quicker:
“I don’t know that I have ever thought about it that way but when you do have guys with you on the floor all summer long, it is different than it was before. But it is different for everybody. Everybody plays with the same rules. I think it helps our guys.”
“We are getting there. We are not great but we are better with Jordan because of his length. He can protect some things at the rim. We just have to continue to learn how to defend at our level. Cat has got to learn, which he is. Desmond is also learning. We are just going to keep working at it, but I think we are getting there.”
Thoughts on NC State’s 83-87 Loss to Syracuse
NC State’s (16-10/8-7) 83-87 loss to Syracuse this evening might have been the nail-in-the-coffin when it comes to the Wolfpack’s NCAA Tournament aspirations. They were barely on the bubble as it was, but this game and the next two games against Boston College and Florida State were “must wins.” On top of that, the Wolfpack probably needed to beat Pitt in the regular season finale, and beat either Duke or UNC.
With this loss, NC State will need a miracle. They will need to win the rest of their regular season games, which concludes with 3 consecutive Quad 1 games.
In regards to this evenings game, it’s hard to beat a team when you allow them to shoot 61.3% in the first half, and allow a guy who averages 11.3 points per game (Chris Bell) to sink 8 of 9 three’s at the halfway mark. Sure, you could make the excuse that they were just hitting everything they threw up, but the defense was lackluster, and they failed to adjust to a player with a hot hand.
What I’m about to say isn’t meant to describe a moral victory for NC State. With that being said, this team didn’t give up, and clawed back from a 15-point halftime deficit (16-point at one point in the 2nd half), to take a 1-point lead with 3:15 left in the game. That was the first time the Wolfpack had led since it was 2-0.
Senior DJ Horne was sensational once again, scoring 25+ points for the 5th straight game, matching what Cat Barber did back in 2015-16. Horne finished with 32 points, hitting 11 of his 20 field goal attempts, and an insane 6 of 8 from three.
Could you argue that Horne was fouled on the last play? I guess, but I wouldn’t have called it.
Three other Wolfpack players scored in double figures: Ben Middlebrooks (12), DJ Burns (12) and Jayden Taylor (10). Honestly, they all shot well. Middlebrooks had a double-double, with 10 rebounds.
Mohamed Diarra was solid with 7 points (3-6) and 8 boards.
Syracuse came back to reality in the second half, and ended up shooting 51% from the field, but the Wolfpack shot 47%. Both teams shot well. In fact, NC State actually scored more points off of turnovers, had more second chance points and had more free throws.
You simply can’t put yourself in a position to dig yourself out of a 16-point deficit. You can’t allow a guy to make 8 of 9 three’s in the opening half, with 6 of them being practically uncontested.
The Wolfpack have lost 3 of the last 4, and all 3 losses have been by 4 points or less. I wouldn’t say the Pack lost any of those three games due to a lack of effort. Rather, I would say it was primarily due to inconsistency, a lack of discipline and poor decisions in timely moments (Jayden Taylor’s TO with 1:13 left with the game tied).
With Wake Forest beating Pitt tonight, a Wolfpack win would have put them in 4th place in the ACC.
A big missed opportunity for the Pack this evening.
NC State 83 Syracuse 87: BOX SCORE
DJ Horne is Looking to Continue His Streak of 20+ Points or More
NC State is trying to stop a 6-game losing streak to Syracuse tonight, but Senior Wolfpack Guard DJ Horne is trying to continue a streak.
Currently, Horne has scored 20+ points in 5 straight games, which is tied with what Terquavion Smith did last year. If Horne scores 20+ points tonight, his 6-game streak will be the longest since 2015-16, when Cat Barber strung together 7 straight games of 20+ points.
Horne also has scored 25+ points in 4 straight games. If he does so again tonight, he will be the first player to do so since Barber did so in 2015-16, when he scored 25+ in 5-straight games.
What Horne has done in his coming home campaign has been nothing short of remarkable. He is shooting 43.4% from three, which ranks 2nd in the ACC. In his last 18 games, Horne is shooting 46.6% from deep. In ACC play, Horne is averaging 19.3 points per game, which ranks 2nd in the conference.
Here’s what Horne’s numbers look like over his 5-game streak of 20+ points: 26.6 points/51.8 FG%/48.8 3PT%.
NC State is Looking to Snap a 6-Game Losing Streak to Syracuse
NC State might be a 5.5-point favorite this evening agains Syracuse, but beating the Orange hasn’t been easy for the Wolfpack over the past couple of years. Syracuse has defeated NC State in 6 consecutive games.
The 6-game losing streak is the Wolfpack’s longest current losing streak. The Pack are in familiar territory, after snapping a 6-game losing streak to Clemson their last time out.
Kevin Keatts started off his tenure in Raleigh by beating the Orange in 3 consecutive games, but has lost the last 6 obviously.
The last time NC State defeated Syracuse was on February 11th, 2020, winning 79-74 on the road. The last time the Wolfpack beat Syracuse at home was the year before, winning decisively 73-58 in PNC Arena on February 13th, 2019.
In three of the losses, the Wolfpack was upset.