TJ Warren dropped 24 and Ralston Turner added 22 as NC state outlasted the Canes in the first round of the ACC tournament.
You just knew that Miami wasn’t going to be an easy out. This is a team that beat State in Raleigh by double digits and then nearly knocked them off in Miami. Both times State seemed timid against the Physicality of the Canes. Tonight, however, was different. State matched the intensity of the canes and came ready. Here are some key notes from tonight’s win:
Warren and Turner lead the way
TJ Warren is just insane. It’s been the majority of the season that I’ve had to pretty much write the same thing over and over again after games, but dear lord. Warren is just unlike anything I’ve ever seen. His touch, his release, his body control, his demeanor, just everything he does is high quality. Miami did everything they could to stop him. They ran doubles at him, they trailed him and didn’t help off of him, but still TJ found a way to score it, as he usually does. He finished with 24 points and 8 boards.
The big boost that State needed (other than Warren’s 24) was the sharp shooting of Ralston Turner. The junior transfer has been big all season long and he stepped up huge again. Turner finished with 22 pts on 5-8 from 3pt range. There were a lot of big ones, but the one that stands out was the shot that put State up 58-53 as time was winding down. This broke Miami’s back and allowed State some breathing room.
Vandy Was Huge
Sometimes Vandy just doesn’t get a fair shake. This guy has really put forth a ton of effort all season. Sometimes it works for him, sometimes he just can’t get it going. Tonight he was great. Maybe the best we’ve ever seen him. 4 points 4 boards, 3 steals and 2 assists. That’s a pretty full stat sheet for a 7’1 center. He helped get Warren open with his passing, he altered a lot of shots, and he played with focus and poise (knocking down 2-3 FTs at the end), not to mention was physical on D without fouling. Huge game for the senior looking to live another day.
Cat Barber Catching On
Lewis played well again, but Barber seems to finally be figuring out how to manage a team and play the PG position at this level. He was magnificent in this one. Sure his defense was great but his real problem was that he’d fallen in love with trying to score, he’d be too busy trying to find a lane to drive that he would miss opportunities to find the open man. Tonight Cat took another step forward. He finished with 5 points, 7 assists and 0 turnovers. That’s 15 assists and 0 TO’s over his last 3 games. He’s trusting his teammates and finding the scorers. Look for Barber to play good minutes against a syracuse team with talented guards.
By the numbers
The big stat in t his one was turnovers. State once again was near flawless with the basketball. They turned it over only 5 times against Miami and forces the Canes into 15 turnovers. This was huge for allowing them to get out in transition and get easy buckets. The other big number was 13. That’s the combined point total for Lecomte and Adams, two guys who have haunted the Pack in their past two meetings. That due scored over 20 in the first meeting and combined for over 30 in the second. Stopping them was a key for the Pack.
Another key number was 41%. That’s what State shot from 3pt range. The usual dismal shooting Wolfpack team has all of the sudden started knocking down some more 3s. Over the past 4 games this team is shooting 39% from beyond the arc. Well, above their season average of 30%.
It’s payback time. State advances to play a Syracuse team who they had all but beaten in the final seconds earlier this season, however a few bad turnovers and a few iffy calls led to a 1 point heartbreaking loss. Now it’s time to get even. On a neutral court, State takes on the Orange at 7pm on Saturday. We’ll have the preview coming midday Friday. Stay tuned!
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%.