Usually we’ll get you ‘our take’ sometime in the 24 hours following a game. In this case it took a little more processing before we could really get some stable-minded thoughts together. We had to work through the disbelief, anger and denial, but finally, here it is:
Gottfried has his team prepared and had the right gameplan
Before we say anything else, we need to go ahead and say that NC State played amazing. They walked onto the home court of the #1 team in the nation, and in front of 33k fans, took them down to the final seconds. How did they do this? Well, they attack the Syracuse zone perfectly. Remember in our pregame we talked about the vulnerability in this zone and how getting the ball in the middle to a versatile scorer was very important. We talked a lot about making sure Warren is catching it there. Well, we were only halfway right. The middle of that zone, near the free throw line, is where State focused on, only they didn’t attack with Warren. They stayed within their usual rotation and allowed Kyle Washington to get all those touches in the middle (a huge responsibility for a freshman). The kid answered with an unbelievable game (which we’ll get into later) and was a huge reason State nearly won this game. The entire team fought hard, played tough, strong defense, and really showed the nation that this is a team that they need to pay attention to in the home stretch.
Kyle Washington played like a man
He’s only a freshman, but Kyle Washington was an absolute beast. What an exciting performance by the kid. I haven’t seen a freshman this hungry or this confident since Julius Hodge came on the scene years ago. Washington took it right at the Syracuse bigs and it was as if they weren’t ready for it. They didn’t expect some freshman who averages 4.5 points per game to come in and attack them so viscously. He was everywhere in this one. His 14 points and 10 boards were all well-earned and will start to get him a little more attention as the year moves forward. What’s even more exciting is the fact that this is just the beginning for Washington. He is going to keep growing, skill-wise and confidence-wise, and could end up being one of State’s go-to bigs in the coming year(s). His ability to score inside and knock down 15 footers will be huge and should have State fans grinning ear to ear.
Tyler Lewis keyed the NC State attack
If you’re going to judge Lewis on his state line then you might as go ahead and write him off. His 0 points and 2 rebounds don’t even begin to show you how valuable he was in this one. Now, when you look at his 6 assists and 0 turnovers you might start to get the right idea. But his game isn’t based on numbers, it’s based on flow, trust and game management. One problem that basketball has had over the past 10 years is it’s lust for scoring point guards. While it’s ok for your lead guard to score, you never want the guy in charge of running your team to be coming down trigger-happy and looking to shoot the first shot he sees. Lewis is a throwback and as you can see, his presence does something to this Wolfpack team. All of the sudden guys are emerging as scorers because they are getting the ball in positions to do so. It wasn’t until Lewis started seeing more minutes that Ralston Turner became a true scoring option. And now Kyle Washington is getting into the mix. Teams need a guy like this. They need a guy who knows where his teammates like to catch it and where they are effective from. A guy who who uses craftiness and misdirection to put defenses on their heels, even if for just a second. State was in this one against Syracuse because Lewis managed this basketball game, protected the ball and found his scorers. If State wants to make a run, Gottfried will have to find ways to keep him on the floor, while still keeping Barber happy.
Cat Barber has been broken down, time to build him back up
Cat Barber is down right now. He’s now seen his minutes drop, his shot disappear and it’s all been compounded by a last second turnover that ended up costing his team the game. There’s no doubt his confidence is at a low point, but this is where great players are made. Many kids come out of high school like Barber. They’ve dominated their whole life, they’ve led their team or their state in scoring and picture their college career to be very similar. Sometimes that happens, but sometimes their game doesn’t translate. Barber is finding out that he wasn’t as ready as he thought. He’s got all the tools to become a superstar and NBA PG, but he needs to be mature about the opportunity that faces him. He needs to accept that he needs to improve aspects of his game that he’s never needed before, and then face it head on. He’s been broken down now, it’s time for Gottfried to build him back up. It’s up to Barber on how he wants this to go. If he accepts the challenge, works hard, and studies the game and works towards being a true PG, he will likely be pushing Lewis for the starting job by season’s end. If he doesn’t then it’s looking like it’s all Lewis for the foreseeable future. What Cat certainly does need right now, is fan support. This kid is a freshman who was thrown into the fire, but he now has a chance to turn a few negatives into a career of positives. If you want to encourage him on twitter, I’m pretty sure it would be a welcome change from what others spewed after the Syracuse loss. @CatBarber1994
TJ Warren dominates all aspects of the game against everyone and anyone
What can be said that hasn’t already been said. Warren just gets buckets. Whether it’s against some no-name team from some no-name conference or against the #1 team in the nation (23 pts, 4 rebs, 3 assists, 3 steals), the guy just dominates, and lately has been one of the best defenders on this basketball team. His defense was a huge reason that CJ Fair had such an off game (11pts, 5 boards). Warren being left off the Naismith award list is laughable and all about money and exposure. The guy is the best player in the ACC and just because he’s not wearing blue or not on an undefeated team, he’s forgotten.
Where is Dez?
The curious case of Desmond Lee. I’m not sure what’s up right now with the junior transfer. The ability is certainly there, but it’s hard not to wonder if he’s battling injury, lack of confidence, or something else. This guy has had games where he’s totally dominated entire games. He’s shut down opposing teams’ best players and has been clutch every time he’s tried to make a play late in games. So what has happened lately? Since he’s been moved out of the starting lineup for Ralston Turner, Lee has been seemingly lost. He’s not scoring, his defense has been decent at best and he just hasn’t seemed like himself out there. Here’s to hoping it’s just a blip on the radar and that he’s just going through a little lull. This team needs a confident and aggressive Dez Lee if they want to make a run in March.
Absolutely, positively, horrible job by the officiating crew
It’s getting ridiculous. Scratch that, it’s alway been ridiculous. In the first half you had a pretty evenly called game. Then came the second half where if NC State touched someone it was a foul. It was so one-sided that it’s hard to not wonder if something was going on. Both teams were physical and fighting for position on the inside, but neither team was taking it to the basket like crazy. So why was it that late into the second half Syracuse had shot 17 FTs to NC State’s 1. With Syracuse shooting nearly 30% from the floor it’s a little strange to me that all of the sudden they’re getting ticky-tack calls under the hoop and in the bonus about 8 minutes into the second half. Meanwhile, State never got into the bonus in the second half. With less than 20 seconds to play, when Warren had a breakaway for a game-sealing dunk, he was fouled from behind. The foul was called on the floor and State was not yet in the bonus, making them take it out under the basket. What’s crazier than that, is the fact that Warren, on a breakaway was fouled from behind by Cooney and the refs not only didn’t give him the bucket, they didn’t even go to the monitor to see if it could or should be flagrant. I’ll say this, in 30 years of watching basketball I’ve never seen a fast break foul from behind not go the way of the offense. Either the refs gives him a little leeway on continuation or he gives him the flagrant. Huge botch by the officiating crew who was scared stupid to make a call against an undefeated team on their home court.
Next up is Clemson on Tuesday night at 7pm on ESPNU.
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.