NC State vs Duke
1:30pm | CBS | PNC Arena
Duke is the #2 ranked team in the nation, and while they’re likely going to be going into this ball game with a high sense of confidence, there also is likely a little voice in the back of their heads saying “Watch out! This IS the PNC Arena.”
The reason for this is the fact that Duke has lost 2 of their last 3 road games to NC State and also lost their NCAA tournament game to Mercer in that very same arena. That means the Blue Devils have only won 1 of their past 4 games at the PNC.
“I’m 0-2 there, my sophomore year against N.C. State and last year against Mercer,” said Duke’s Quinn Cook. “I’m not going there thinking, oh Mercer, oh N.C. State, it’s a new team, a new year and hopefully myself and Amile and Rasheed can get our first win in there.”
While NC State certainly will be ready to take on rival Duke, they also will be facing a challenge that they have not yet seen this season – Jahlil Okafor.
That brings us to our 3 keys..
1 | Stop Okafor. The true freshman big is averaging 19pts, 9 boards and nearly 2 blocks per game. He’s unlike anything State has seen thus far. He has great hands, near perfect footwork and has the IQ and anticipation of an upperclassman. State needs to try numerous different looks to make him uncomfortable. Simply playing behind him and doubling down isn’t going to get State the win. Duke has too many shooters and the ability to make plays off the dribble. If State is constantly trying to recover from double teams then they’ll be playing from behind all night.
There is really no good answer for a player like Okafor. He’s 6’11, super skilled and the focal point of Duke’s offense. State needs to constantly give him different looks. Front him some with backside help, double down on him, go zone, try different defenders. None of these are going to stop him, but they could stop him from getting into a good rhythm.
2 | Protect the Basketball Duke’s defense has always been a problem for NC State. They push you out and make you run your offense from way beyond the 3 point line. This year State has 2 PGs on the floor for most of the game and has played a bunch of very strong defensive teams as of late. They need to be strong with the ball, come to passes, and not allows Duke’s pressure and physicality to get to them.
Gottfried has had success against Duke in the past because he’s understood how to exploit their lack of size and their constant overplays on the perimeter. He’s allowed his guys to go more 1 on 1 with them, break them down and get easy buckets. This year, while they may be able to exploit the overplays, there is now a beast waiting for them in the paint. How the Pack will handle that, I’m not quite sure.
3 | Bigs and Bench State needs more production from their bigs. And no, I don’t mean short baseline jumpers from Kyle Washington. They need to start punishing teams inside, at the rim, and getting to the foul line. Last game, aside from Washington the Pack got next to nothing in the paint. Abu is a guy we’re watching right now and is showing signs of breaking out offensively. The Pack desperately needs him to.
They also need to outlast Duke. Coach K likes to keep his rotation small, but that means that a deep, fresh State bench could take advantage. The Martin twins and Lennard Freeman will be big for State. You will also have either Abu or Anya coming off the bench. Whoever that is will also need to be very ready. Okafor is going to get these guys in foul trouble, so being deep in the paint is going to help big time.
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.