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Wolfpack Gets Huge Road Win Over Vols 65-58

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NC State 65  – Tennessee 58

Tennessee was billed as having the more dominant front court, but it was the Wolfpack bigs that were the story as NC State owned the paint in their 65-58 win over the Vols.

Leading scorer: TJ Warren – 21
Leading rebounder: TJ Warren – 11
Most blocks: Beejay Anya – 5
Most assists: Cat Barber – 4
Most steals: TJ Warren – 2

Key Quote
“They came in here and I thought they were fearless. They played with poise and stayed with what we wanted to do. I like the fact we came in here and showed some confidence. We were mentally and emotionally ready to start the game. Good win for our team, very excited for our players.” Coach Gottfried

Game Notes:

Huge credit to the NC State bigs in this one. Tennessee had a bigger, stronger and more experienced front line, but it was no match for the heart and hustle of the Pack’s front court. State out rebounded the Vols 43-41 and had 12 blocks on the night.

Jordan Vandenberg might have been in foul trouble all night, but the guy is a game changer when he’s on the floor. Tonight was no different. The big Aussie had a big defensive presence, but his big moment came with about 4:25 left in the game when Tennesee was making a surge. They drove, drew Vandy off his man, then dished to that man. Jordan turned around and rejected a dunk, taking the air out of the Vols and giving momentum back to State.

Speaking of bigs making big impacts, let’s talk about Beejay Anya. This guy has basically been an afterthought lately, but tonight he was a huge factor. With Vandenberg in foul trouble, Beejay was forced into action. Tennessee seemed like they were salivating when he entered. They went right at him, trying to take advantage of the weak link, but the joke was on them. Anya was a block machine and filled in for Vandy rather well with 5 denials. It looks like that front court depth just got a little deeper.

Want more front court production? Look no further than the other reserve, Kyle Washington. Starter Lennard Freeman played great (8 poionts, 9 boards), but early foul trouble sent him to the bench as well. Enter KWash who was all over the place tonight. This kid is just getting better and better. He hit a lefty hook, and long jumper and he completely dominated on the boards when he was in there. He finished with 5 points and 7 boards in 23 minutes. Right now NC State’s perceived weak spot is turning into a strong suit and most of it is thanks to a group of freshmen.

– How’d we get this far without mentioning a guy who put up a double double and shot 50% for the game? TJ Warren did it again, folks. The sophomore star put up 21 points, added 11 boards and threw in 2 steals for good measure. Warren is the engine that makes this offense go. He’s also the leader that NC State has really been missing. He spurs his team on with his play and his action, and not with his ego. It’s a breath of fresh air to see NC State with a leader that is a team-first guy. Warren is the perfect front man for a group this young. He’s putting the team on his back and making sure they succeed. But, let’s talk about tonight in general. As I started to write this, I was feeling like Warren had a bit of an off-game according to his standards. That’s saying a lot, because he dropped 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. How spoiled are we? The truth, however, is that TJ did look a little off early in the 2nd half, taking some wild shots and got a little loose with the ball for a few possessions. I know I’m just being picky, but that’s how good TJ Warren is. He had a great game overall and is still probably the best pure scorer I’ve seen at NC State in my lifetime.

Cat Barber continues to grow. This kid still makes some little mistakes, but he’s becoming a star right in front of our eyes. The concerning number is the 6 turnovers, but he did have 12 points, 6 boards and 4 assists on the game. Most of his turnovers were him being too aggressive. There were times in the game last night when things just weren’t going the Wolfpack’s way. The Vols were mounting a comeback, the crowd was going nuts and the refs were making suspect calls. It seemed at that moment that the Pack could lose their hold on this one. That’s when Barber drove the lane and hit a jumper, then followed it with another score, and suddenly NC State was back in control. That is just an example of the player Barber is becoming. Never rattled and with a burning desire to win.

This team continues to excel despite the off-shooting of Dez Lee. The JUCO guard did drop 1o points, but did so shooting 4-12. Dez Lee is certainly a better scorer than he’s shown and as he continues to get acclimated, he will continue to improve. When he arrives, the ACC might want to start taking note of NC State.

– Good defense all around. I know Jordan McRae went for 21 points, but he also shot 6-22 on the night. Dez Lee, Cat Barber and the bigs played lock down D all night, holding Tennessee under 30% shooting.

If you’re a consistant reader of this site, then you know we don’t like to bring the reffing into the argument, but every once in a while we deem it necessary. Tonight was one of those nights. After State took a 17 point lead into the half, the refs really tightened up, so much so that the Vols hit the bonus at the 14 minutes mark and NC State still hadn’t with less than 2 minutes to play. The refs seemingly did not want Tennessee out of this game on their home floor. Anytime NC State made a bucket, it was followed by a foul. The referees completely changed the way they were calling the game and took the air out of the back anytime they seemed to build some second half momentum. State hung on to win despite this, which is pretty impressive for a young team who is just getting used to playing on the road.

– According to Ken Pom rankings this was a big upset. NC State was 81 and Tennessee was 33. This will certainly be a quality win for NC State come March.

– Next game is against ECU in Raleigh on Dec 21st at noon.

 

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NC State’s 2023-23 Men’s Basketball Schedule Has Arrived

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NC State’s 2023-24 Men’s Basketball schedule has arrived!

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NC State to Honor David Thompson with Statue Outside Reynolds Coliseum

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RALEIGH – NC State University will pay tribute to three-time All-American David Thompson with a statue sculpted in his honor that will be placed outside of Reynolds Coliseum.

The unveiling will take place at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 6, the day of the Wolfpack men’s basketball team’s annual Heritage Game at Reynolds Coliseum, and will be open to the public.

“This is such a deserved honor for the greatest basketball player to ever wear an NC State jersey,” NC State Director of Athletics Boo Corrigan said. “He is one of the most iconic players to ever play in the ACC and our hope is that this statue will ensure that generations of NC State students and fans will always remember the legacy and contributions of David Thompson.”

Thompson is widely recognized as one of the greatest players in college basketball history. A 2008 ESPN story ranked him as one of the ten best college basketball players of all-time, and he is regarded as one of greatest athletes in Atlantic Coast Conference history.

The Boiling Spring, N.C., native played three seasons at NC State from 1972-75 and was a unanimous first-team All-American at the conclusion of all three seasons. He was also named the ACC Player of the Year all three seasons.

He was named the Associated Press National Player of the Year in 1974 and 1975 and remains one of just five players in college basketball history to win multiple AP National Player of the Year honors.

Thompson immediately made his mark on the Pack, helping lead NC State to an undefeated season (27-0) in 1973. The Pack dominated the 1972-73 season and was at the top or near the top of the polls all season as Thompson averaged 24.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.

Thompson returned in the 1973-74 season and led the Wolfpack to a 30-1 record and the school’s first NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball National Title.

In the Final Four, Thompson and the Wolfpack met up with UCLA, the seven-time reigning National Champions and the only team to have defeated NC State that season. The Pack trailed 74-67 in the second overtime when Thompson’s heroics helped lead NC State back. Thompson pulled down a defensive rebound and made the go-ahead basket with under one minute remaining and then made two free throws with 38 seconds to go to give the Pack a 78-75 double overtime win in a game that is still considered one of the greatest Final Four games ever played.

Thompson finished the game with 28 points and 10 rebounds in the win over Bill Walton and the Bruins.
Two nights later, the Pack won the National Title over Marquette, 76-64, behind 21 points from Thompson. Thompson was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.

To make it into the NCAA Tournament, the Pack defeated fourth-ranked Maryland, 103-100, in overtime in the 1974 ACC Championship, in a game that is routinely considered one of the best games in college basketball history.

As a senior, Thompson averaged 29.9 points, still the highest single season average in NC State history. He scored an NC State and ACC record 57 points in an early season win over Buffalo State. The Pack started the season ranked No. 1 in the nation and never fell out of the top-10, but lost in the ACC Championship game to end its season. The Pack finished the season ranked seventh in the nation but because the NCAA Tournament at that time only allowed the conference champion into the tournament its season was over.

Thompson closed his career with 2,309 points in 86 career games. He led the ACC in scoring all three seasons and was NC State and the ACC’s career scoring leader when he graduated.

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Former NC State Basketball Player Torin Dorn Joins Coaching Staff of G-League SLC Stars

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Former NC State basketball player Torin Dorn has joined the staff of the Salt Lake City Stars, the G-League team for the Utah Jazz. Dorn’s title is Player Development Associate/Assistant Coach.

After playing 3 seasons at NC State, Dorn went on to play professionally overseas in Poland and Czech Republic, before joining the Wolfpack coaching staff last season as a Graduate Manager.

Dorn will be working under newly appointed head coach Steve Wojciechowski (former Duke PG), who was the head coach at Marquette the past 7 seasons.

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NC State Guard MJ Rice Will Be Returning Soon After Stepping Away for a Period of Time

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NC State Guard MJ Rice (6’5″/215) announced yesterday that due to personal reasons, he had to step away from the basketball program, but was excited to be back with his teammates soon. He was clear that his commitment to NC State hasn’t wavered.

(Tweet)

Life is much bigger than sports. These young men are human beings first and foremost, and as we all know, this life is never simple and easy.

Rice transferred to NC State this offseason from Kansas with three years of eligibility remaining. The former High School McDonald’s All-American didn’t get a lot of playing time in his Freshman season at Kansas, averaging 7.6 minutes per game in only 23 games played.

Coming out of Prolific Prep in California, Rice averaged 20.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as a Senior. Rivals ranked him as a 5-star prospect, ON3 ranked him 24th nationally, and ESPN ranked him as the #1 player in the state of North Carolina.

Whatever Rice is working through, we value him as a person more than we do a player.

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