NC State Wolfpack vs. Miami Hurricanes
7pm | Greensboro, NC | ESPN
Here we are. This is it, folks. There’s no turning back now. It’s win or go home for NC State from here on out. First up is a Miami team who they’ve split with this season. Although the Canes finished 7-11 in the ACC and almost lost to VTech in the first round, they come in at the 1 point favorite against the Wolfpack.
State might be on a nice little run lately and they might have the ACC’s hottest player in TJ Warren, but they’ve struggled mightily against this Miami team this season.
Let’s take a closer look at why:
In the first matchup with Miami: NC State 56 – Miami 55
This game was in Miami but seemed like a sure shot win for NC State at the time. They started out well, but the Canes never let them pull away. Warren dropped 27 and Ralston Turner had 17, but the rest of the team did just about nothing (12 points combined).
Now one thing to note here. Miami sat in a zone for much of the game and this was in during the time where the Pack was absolutely clueless against the zone. Actually, the truth is, State has been awful against the zone all season up until the last 2 weeks when Lewis, Barber and Lee broke out of their shooting slumps. The Canes also got a big game from Rion Brown (20pts), while Lecomte and Adams added 23 combined.
Miami ruled the boards in this one as well. They won that battle 36-33, but it was on the offensive glass where the Pack really felt the pain. They were outdone there 17 to 11.
State shot under 40% for this game (37.8%)
In their second matchup with Miami: Miami 85 – NC State 70
This one had a totally different feel. Now, State was only 3 days removed from their most heartbreaking loss of the season (the 1 pt OT loss to UNC) and they looked out of it. There was zero defense being played and the team just looked beat.
Miami on the other hand was hungry and actually knocking down their shots. Once again Rion Brown took over and dropped 20. and again Lecompte and Adams added a big chunk (31pts combined). This time however, they also got 14 from big man Jekari and 15 from F Eric Swoop.
State was just crushed overall in this one. They were murdered on the boards 32-24 and they just looked awful on D. Miami shot 58.7. Yes you read that right….nearly 60% from the floor by Miami, a team who on average shoots 42%.
State got 20 from Warren, 13 from KWash and 10 from Lee.
In their third meeting with Miami: What do they need to do?
“All I know for us is we need to go and we need to win. You have to play your way into the tournament. That’s our mindset.” – Mark Gottfried in pre-tourney presser
Well, let’s start with defense. State needs to stop the Miami guards. Two times out and both times they butchered the Pack. In game one it was 43 total points and in game two it was 51. Lewis, Barber, Lee and Turner need to step up. They need to realize this game is on them. If you stop Rion Brown, Lecomte and Adams then this team has nothing that can really hurt you. The problem is, those guys are playing well right now.
The Canes have won 5 of their last 7 and 3 of their last 4. Now, those games were against low end ACC teams, but wins are wins. Yesterday against VTech they didn’t shoot the ball that well. They only connected on 38% of their shots and did not shoot well from 3, but they did dominate on the boards.
State needs to keep Jekari off the boards and need to match the physicality of Eric Swoope if they want to own the paint. That will be a another key for State. There is no doubt that if State wins the rebounding war, they win this game. Miami isn’t going to come out on fire like they did last time and I’m guessing State isn’t going to show up soft like they did in Raleigh. My guess is that Gottfried has his boys ready.
Gott is a great late season coach, he has a way of having his guys show up down the stretch and it’s looking like it’s coming together again. Right now you have Warren, Lewis, Barber and Anya playing their best basketball of the season. Washington and Freeman are continuing to battle inside and are getting more and more physical as the season goes along, while Dez Lee is once again turning the corner as a true threat. Turner is still shooting well, but realizing that he doesn’t need to carry the team with his shooting.
Look for the Pack to give Miami a heavy dose of Warren. State is going wherever TJ is taking them, so they’re certainly going to trust him. I think this team has the makings of a group that could be electric in March. With the way Warren is playing right now, he’s positioned himself to be one of those tournament takeover players who refuses to let his team lose. Now, one off game by TJ and this thing is over, but this is a hungry team who wants to make one of those improbable runs and end up in the big dance. The door isn’t completely closed, but they have a lot of work to do.
It starts today vs. Miami.
NC State NET Rankings Report After Syracuse Loss
NC State lost to Syracuse 83-87 last night, and as a result, the Wolfpack fell 5 spots in the NET Rankings to #80. The Orange moved up 6 spots to #84.
NC State is now 9th in the ACC in the NET rankings.
For a refresher on how the NET Rankings are calculated:
Using the quadrant system, which was in its fourth season in 2020-21, the quality of wins and losses will be organized based on game location and the opponent’s NET ranking.
Quadrant 1: Home 1-30, Neutral 1-50, Away 1-75
Quadrant 2: Home 31-75, Neutral 51-100, Away 76-135
Quadrant 3: Home 76-160, Neutral 101-200, Away 135-240
Quadrant 4: Home 161-353, Neutral 201-353, Away 241-353
The number of Quadrant 1 wins and Quadrant 3/4 losses will be incredibly important when it comes time for NCAA tournament selection and seeding. (NCAA)
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%.