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Scouting the Competition: #25 Missouri Tigers

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The looming Saturday matchup with #25 Missouri is going to be a huge test for this young Wolfpack team. This is their first run in with a ranked opponent and will be playing their first game after a week long layoff for Christmas.

This is also a huge game here at PackInsider.com. See, my wife is a Missouri grad and a die-hard Tigers fan. After years of rooting for Missouri as my second favorite college team, I will be turning my back on them this weekend.

The good news, however, is that I’m going to be able to give you the most in-depth Missouri preview possible, thanks to the fact that I’ve watched every minute of nearly every game over the past 4 season. With that said, let’s get into it.

 

Players to Watch
You might remember this team from last year. They were powered by the do-it all point guard Phil Pressey, who has since left for the NBA. This year they’re back with a tandem of dangerous guards in Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson. These two guys are both big, fast scoring guards. Clarkson (6’5, 193 lbs) leads the team in scoring at 19 ppg, while Brown (6’5, 215lbs) adds 18 ppg.

Clarkson is a Tulsa transfer who loves to slash. He is taller than most point guards and is very quick for his size. He makes a living slashing and scoring at the rim. He’s very good in transition, but he’s not a deadly outside shooter. State is going to be outmatched size-wise, but can still slow Clarkson by keeping him out of the lane and making him settle for 3s.

Brown, on the other hand, is more of a shooter. He’s hitting 42% of his 3s (which is the same as Ralston Turner for State) and he’s shooting a lot of them. This guy is a lot more physical than Clarkson and has the ability to drive and attack when he wants to. Brown will likely draw Dez Lee, who will need to go over top of screens to stop open looks from the perimeter, but will need the bigs to hedge and help because he’s almost as dangerous when he catches the ball going towards the rim.

 

– Style and Pace
This is a Frank Haith team. You probably remember Haith from his days at Miami, where he was always running out a lot of good athletes, but year after year his teams lacked discipline. Well, not much has changed. This Missouri team is as talented as they come, but if they’re not hitting their shots, they can get sloppy. They like to play at a pretty hectic pace and would rather not set up in the half court if they can avoid it. The same can be said about NC State, so be ready for a track meet when these teams collide on Saturday night. 

 

– A Look at the Numbers
Missouri and NC State are really pretty even when you look at the numbers. Missouri averages 78 ppg to NC State’s 77 ppg. The Tigers are a little better on the boards, pulling down 40 rebounds per game to the Wolfpack’s 37. Both teams average 5 steals per game, and State averages 5 blocks to Mizzou’s 4. These teams are only 2 assists apart per game with the Pack at 14 and the Tigers at 12. Both teams also shoot 49% for the season.

Here are a few areas where the numbers differ and how they could affect the game:

• Missouri is a better shooting team from beyond the arc and from the free throw line. They shoot 37% from 3 and 71% from the line, while NC State only shoots 31% from 3 and 66% from the line.

• NC State protects the basketball better. Even though this team is young, they have done a great job at taking care of the ball and really cherishing possessions. State turns it over only 10 times per game, while Mizzou turns it over 14 times. Their main culprits are their guards, Jordan Clarkson and Jabari Brown, both of whom are over 2.5 TOs per game. Only Cat Barber (freshman) turns it over more than twice a game for State.

 

– Who are their Role Players?
It’s very likely that this basketball game comes down to the team that has the better role players. Sure, Brown and Clarkson will get theirs, but who steps up after that?
Mizzou isn’t as deep as they once were. Even though Haith likes to run out 10 or 11 guys per game, it’s usually to Missouri’s detriment. This is a team with a lot of transfers and a lot of young guys that simply hasn’t gotten to the chance to gel quite yet. In my opinion, the reason for this is Haith never letting a group get comfortable together. He’s constantly subbing and trying new combinations. I’d like to think that this is due to the season being young and him still getting to know his team, but he’s been doing this for years at Miami and now at Missouri. While State does have to game plan for a lot of different guys and combinations, Missouri really only has 6 or 7 guys that are actually dangerous and game changing. Here are some of their ‘glue guys’ that State should plan for:

 

Earnest Ross (14 ppg / 6 rpg) – You might remember this kid from the local papers in Raleigh. He was a standout at Panther Creek HS and was lightly recruited by Sidney Lowe. He ended up at Auburn and like most of this Missouri team, transferred in after a couple years. This kid has massive shoulders, stands 6’5 and slots in as a guard. Honestly though, Ross isn’t as dangerous as it might seem. He’s a real hustle guy and a true streak shooter, but he doesn’t move that well laterally and he doesn’t really elevate to the rim well. That being said, he can get hot from 3. On the break he likes to drift to the corner for the kick-out 3 ball. His game reminds me a lot of former NC State wingman Courtney Fells. He’s big, athletic, hustles and can really lock down on defense, but he just hasn’t quite seemed to put it all together. Now don’t get me wrong, Ross is a factor for this team. He plays at break neck speed, rebounds well and defends really well, but he’s just a little out of control overall.

 

• Jonathan Williams III (7 ppg / 8 rpg)- Williams is a freshman big who has come in and really taken the lead in the Missouri front court. He’s 6’9 and weighs in at 210lbs. He’s not a beast by any means, but he’s a fighter on the blocks and he’s pretty quick down there. He was always pegged to be pretty good, a 4 star who ranked #35 in his class according to Rivals.com.

 

• Outside of those guys, Missouri has guys like Tony Criswell who is a decent big who can float out and hit a few mid-range jumpers and can get physical inside when he puts his mind to it, Wes Clark, a talented but short freshman guard who is still looking to break out, and Ryan Rosberg, a 6’10 sophomore big who plays a lot like former Wolfpacker Ben McCauley in the middle.  All three of those guys have a ton of potential but seem to be held back by Haith’s style of play and his constant subbing patterns.

 

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Overall, NC State and Missouri are very, very evenly matched. They are both young and exciting teams that like to play a break-neck speeds. It’s going to be a true battle this Saturday night at the PNC. Make sure you’re tuned in…
NC State Wolfpack vs Missouri Tigers
Saturday, 8pm | PNC Arena Raleigh
ESPN2 

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NC State Basketball

NC State 72 Georgia Tech 64: ACCDN Highlight Reel & Condensed Game

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NC State improved to 19-5 overall, and 9-4 in the ACC, defeating Georgia Tech 72-64 in PNC Arena. How did they win: By the Numbers. Box Score. The ACC Digital Network’s Highlight Reel and Condensed Game are below.

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NC State Basketball

NC State 72 Georgia Tech 64: BY THE NUMBERS

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Survive and Advance. Some days it’s just like that.

NC State found a way to win at home over Georgia Tech 72-64 with Terquavion Smith and Jarkel Joiner combining for a whopping 10 points, shooting 3-17. They each had 5 points, and entered the game ranked 1st (Smith) and 5th (Joiner) in the ACC in scoring.

How did the Wolfpack find a way to victory?

Burns. Ross. Morsell.

DJ Burns carried the team on his back, scoring 24 points (11-21 FG) and grabbing 8 boards. Ernest Ross reminded us once again what he’s capable of, coming off the bench to score 16 points, shooting 4 of 8 from the field. Most importantly, Ross was a perfect 7 for 7 from the free throw line. He also had 7 rebounds and 2 blocks.

The shots might not have been falling for Smith and Joiner, but don’t forget about Casey Morsell. He scored 17 points, making 6 of his 9 field goal attempts, and 4 of 7 from beyond the arch. He also had 5 rebounds and 3 steals.

Smith’s shot might have been off, but his passing game wasn’t. His 10 assists were a new career high, toppling his former best of 7 against Miami back in December.

Once again, NC State managed to find a way to win a game in which the other team shot better (44.1/41.9) than them. Heck, the Yellow Jackets out rebounded them (37-36).

How you ask?

Well, NC State forced Georgia Tech to commit 17 turnovers, scoring 11 points off of them (Georgia Tech had 5 points off of turnovers). Also, the Wolfpack had more offensive rebounds than the Yellow Jackets (12-10), scoring 11 second chance points (The Yellow Jackets had 7 second chance points).

Georgia Tech entered today’s game having won 4 straight against NC State in PNC Arena, and the Wolfpack found a way to snap that streak.

A 14-3 run by NC State in the final 4 minutes was enough for the Pack to seal the deal.

NC State will have a chance to pick up a Quad 1 win over UVA on the road on Tuesday night at 9pm.

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NC State Basketball

NC State 72 Georgia Tech 64: BOX SCORE

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NC State’s Men’s Basketball team improved to 19-5 and 9-4 in ACC play today, defeating Georgia Tech 72-64 in PNC Arena.

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NC State Basketball

Where Does NC State Rank in Team Stats in the ACC Before Georgia Tech?

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Before NC State and Georgia Tech tipoff at 1pm, here’s a look at where the Wolfpack ranks in the ACC in team stats.

The Wolfpack lead the ACC in points per game, and rank 7th in points given up per game. As a result, NC State’s scoring margin is 10.13, which ranks 2nd in the conference.

The Wolfpack scores a lot, but it isn’t because they are one of the best shooting teams in the ACC, ranking 11th in Free Throw Percentage, 8th in Field Goal Percentage, and 8th in Three Point Percentage.

The reason that NC State leads the ACC in scoring is because of the way they attack the offensive glass, and the way they force turnovers. The Wolfpack forced 319 turnovers, which leads the ACC, and boast a 4.09 Turnover Margin, which also leads the conference. The Wolfpack also rank 2nd in the ACC in Offensive Rebounds. Not shockingly, they lead the ACC in steals, averaging 8.3.

The Wolfpack rank 9th in Assists, but rank 3rd in Assist/Turnover Ratio. NC State has turned over their opponent better than anyone else, and they also have done a good job taking care of the ball.

NC State ranks 2nd in Blocks and 3rd in Rebounding Margin.

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