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Gameday: Keys for State to Take Down # 15 Carolina



NC State Wolfpack vs. UNC Tarheels
7pm | ESPN2 | PNC Arena, Raleigh

NC State is riding high after a convincing home beat down of #2 Duke, but there is no time to celebrate with #15 UNC coming to Raleigh. The rival Heels have had somewhat of an up and down start to their season thus far. With losses to Butler and Iowa in the early goings balanced by wins over Ohio State and Louisville, Carolina is kind of hard to figure out.

On one hand the Heels are a big team that plays very good defense, dominates the boards and really shares the basketball. On the other hand they really struggle to score from the perimeter. A lot hinges on the play of junior PG Marcus Paige. Paige was a guy who led this team last year, shooting a stellar 45% from the field and nearly 40% from 3pt range. Nearly everyone expected that to continue, however his numbers have regressed back to the range most projected for him coming out of high school and after his freshman season.

Now, before you go writing off Paige, realize that he’s capable of getting hot. He is coming off a game winning shot and he is averaging a team leading 13ppg. That being said, this is NC State and we all know that players LOVE to come out of hibernation against the Pack. Watch for Paige to push to regain his form from last season and come out firing.

They may have a few advantages here or there, but overall this is a very evenly matched game. State has a lot of momentum coming off that big win over Duke, but UNC has the same feeling after winning against #5 Louisville. This game is going to come down to matchups. Who will be able to exploit who.

With that said, here are our 3 keys to an NC State victory.

1 | Keep them off the boards!
UNC is one of the best rebounding teams in the nation. They have done a great job at keeping their opponents off the glass with sheer size and lots of physicality. Meeks and Johnson lead the team by brining down 9 and 7 respectively. Keeping these guys off the glass will be the job of Anya, Abu and Washington. State did a good job of this against Duke but the Blue Devils don’t have nearly the same size and strength as the Heels. State will need to be ready to battle in the paint.

Then there is JP Tokoto. This guys is somewhat of an x-factor for the Heels. Talent wise he’s just semi-skilled, but what he lacks there he makes up for with athleticism, size and hustle. The guy grabs 5 boards per game, leads the team with 4 assists per game (he IS very a good passer), and is their shut down defender at 6’5.

The other key with rebounding is keeping UNC from getting second chance points. Meeks and Johnson love to make a living on cleaning up the offensive glass. For the season they have a total of 93 offensive boards, which is pretty impressive. Just for comparison sake, Meeks has 54 and Bryce Johnson has 39, while Lennard Freeman leads State with 33. This means State desperately needs to put a body on these bigs.

2 | Bottle up Paige and a Big
I know, I know, Marcus Paige is having a down year, but that doesn’t mean he can’t come out and drop a 35 spot on State like he did last year. This year he obviously has had his problems, but he is still the team leader at 13ppg. Barber will be tasked with doing this for most of the night.

In all of UNC’s losses either Johnson or Meeks have had a poor offensive outing. When both of these guys get going State will be in trouble, but holding Paige below his average and keeping either Meeks or Johnson in single digits would very likely equal a win. Carolina really struggles from beyond the arc, and if Paige isn’t hitting his 3s than no one really is. Nate Britt can knock down the open 3, but his height and style of play doesn’t really lend itself to a takeover from beyond the arc. This means that they’re going to have to beat State in the middle and that means Anya is going to have to be an enforcer. Altering and blocking some shots early (and STAYING OUT OF FOUL TROUBLE) will go a long, long way in giving State the win.

3 | Execute the offense
One reason State was able to take out Duke was thanks to the ability to move the ball on offense and get open shots. It was exciting to see them working the high-low, and doing a great job of interior passing. They were patient in their cuts, and got a few open UCLA cuts. This led to the defense helping off which led to a quick pass to the opposite block big for a dunk. Abu got a bunch, Freeman got one or two and so did Anya. Washington did a good job of making this cut and making that pass. State will need the same kind of teamwork we saw last weekend.

They are also going to need Lacey and Turner to show up. These guys are the keys almost every game. They both need to come out hungry against this UNC team that really might have trouble guarding them. With that, let’s take a look at the matchups.

Paige vs. Barber
At this point I’ll give a slight advantage to Paige. He’s more of a scorer and has shown that he can be a preime time guy. Barber is playing better, making better decisions and is starting to become more of a floor leader. Barber’s defense is probably on par with Paige’s, but the ability for Paige to have a huge game is always there. We’ll give the edge to him in this one.

JP Tokato vs Trevor Lacey
Tokato is going to make things tough on Lacey. He’s one of the leagues better defenders and is someone who is going to be able to elevate with him on the pull-up. Lacey has made a living early on with his ability to elevate over his defender and hit shots. Tokato is going to take that away, so it will be interesting to see how Trevor handles that. Tokato offensively is just a fast break finisher and a good passer. He can score at times, but really that shouldn’t be a focus of the Pack. Lacey has the ability to change the game with his jumper so we’re going to go with Lacey on this one.

Justin Jackson vs Ralston Turner 
A budding 6’8 freshman who is essentially a guard vs. a senior shooter. Kind of a mismatch on both ends, but Jackson really hasn’t shown much consistency while Turner has kind of notched himself in as the conference most deadly threat from beyond the arc. Does Jackson have the focus and ability to chase Turner all over the floor? He has the height to make up for a few lost steps, but he’ll have to keep his head on a swivel all night long as Turner weaves and slips around screen after screen. At this point we’ve got to say advantage Turner.

Brice Johnson vs Kyle Washington
Are we talking about Washington the guy that shoots every time he touches it, or Washington the guy who played against Duke. Who rebounded, and passed and knocked down open shots? If it’s that Washington then that makes this a different story. Brice Johnson is annoying to me. His body language looks like a guy with absolutely no confidence, but then when he makes a play he hypes himself up beyond belief. He can shoot, he can rebound and he’s definitely a good player. He is averaging 11 pts and 7 boards while Washington is averaging 7pts and 5 boards. Honestly, these two guys are very similar and with Washington is coming off such a great game that I’m going to say this is a push.

Kennedy Meeks vs Beejay Anya
This is the matchup of the game. The two bigs who came out in the same class and constantly battled on the AAU circuit will meet tonight. Meeks came in a little more college ready and had success early on. That success has led to this season where he really is the best guy on this Carolina team. Then there is Anya who just wasn’t physically ready last year. But after shedding weight and working on his game he’s become one of the ACC’s most improved players. Anya had the best game of his career against Duke and he is certainly charged up to show Meeks that he’s ready to start battling again. But until he can really do it in a game, you’d have to give the current advantage to Meeks.


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8 years ago

Man was Lacey horrible this game. Cat Barber was useless. I thought we could have won this game.  Coach Gott made some crucial mistakes. He kept Cat and Lacey in the game way too long. They were obviously still hungover from the duke game. Some time on the pine would have actually helped them. I thought we stayed in the zone a little too long. unc figured that out pretty quickly. And that timeout near the end of the game was stupid. That allowed old Roy to get his foul plan into action. Dez Lee should have come in for… Read more »

NC State Basketball

NC State’s Ebe Dowuona Enters Transfer Portal



NC State Junior F/C Ebe Dowuona has entered the transfer portal, with two years of eligibility remaining.

This year, Ebe played in 30 games, averaging 1.7 points and 1.9 rebounds in 10.9 minutes per game. As a Sophomore, after the injury to Manny Bates in the first game of the season, Dowuona went on to start in 27 of the 31 games he played in, averaging 4.1 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.

I’m not shocked. I don’t blame Dowuona for wanting to find a place where he would get more playing time.

Nonetheless this is a hit to the Wolfpack’s front court. While he didn’t offer much on the offensive end, he continually altered shots on the defensive end.

Ernest Ross will be a Junior next year, and fans will likely get to see Freshman Isaiah Miranda for the first time after redshirting after arriving to Raleigh midseason. Greg Gantt will be a Redshirt Junior next season as well.

Other questions loom for the Wolfpack front court as well. Will DJ Burns and Jack Clark return for their final year of eligibility? Will Dusan Mahorcic be granted a medical waiver for an additional year of eligibility?

Time will tell.

We wish Ebe all the best!

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NC State Basketball

NC State Ranked in Top-25 in Men’s Basketball Attendance in 2022-23



When it was all said and done, the NC State fans represented in 2022-23, ranking 20th amongst Division-1 teams in Men’s Basketball attendance. The Wolfpack ranked 4th in the ACC, behind UNC, Syracuse, and Virginia.


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NC State Basketball

Wolferetti: Feed me my crow. NC State lost to Creighton and I’m here to break it down (and admit I was wrong)



I was wrong.

I thought this matchup was a good one for NC State. I watched a lot of Creighton this year and to me, they looked like a team that NC State could roll over. Let me explain why.

I knew a few things. I knew Nembhard was a PG that could get a little out of control if sped up. I knew with a little defense and physicality, Sheierman could be made uncomfortable. I knew Kalkbrenner was a good defender but was going to sink on the pick-and-roll to protect the basket.

Joiner’s pull up just wouldn’t fall

I figured that Joiner, the pull-up king would be taking that DJ Burns screen, getting to the middle, and pulling up as Kalkbrenner sank. I figured Smith would exploit this as well. Well, turns out Joiner was off and couldn’t get his pull-up game going and Smith, well yeah Smith did exploit this pretty well.

Burns didn’t look like Burns

The other thing I’d figure would happen is that I thought DJ Burns would really frustrate Kalkbrenner. If you’ve looked at games where Kalkbrenner had to face a really good, physical back-to-the-basket big man, those bigs usually had pretty good games in the scoring column.  I honestly don’t understand what happened to Burns in this one. Sure he got a few stupid early fouls, but before he even picked up a foul he looked out of it. With no double teams coming, Burns is usually calculated, slowly backing you down and hitting you with a flurry of head fakes, pump fakes or spins. If the big doesn’t bite, Burns can fade away, go with a contested hook shot, or pass out.

In this game, Burns looked sped up for some reason. The first time he got the ball he quickly backed in and threw up a hook that rattled out. Not awful, but usually you see him probe a little more. Then the next time he didn’t even look for contact, instead, he threw up a little floater that didn’t fall. While neither were awful shots, both were uncharacteristic of Burns. On top of those things, he looked absolutely gassed within minutes of coming in. My guess is that it was the altitude, but either way, it took a toll on him.

Whatever it was, it had him frustrated and he had two really bad fouls where he just shoved Kalkbrenner (he also had a phantom foul that was ridiculous). That said, it just wasn’t his night and this made NC State a lot more one-dimensional.

Casey Morsell came to play, but this NC State roster just wasn’t built to get a guy like him going, which is a shame. Jarkel Joiner was a huge reason why NC State got to where they got. His scoring ability, his speed and his toughness and leadership skill were huge. But Joiner is a scoring guard, and great basketball teams need POINT guards.

What is a point guard, and why can’t we have one?

A point guard isn’t just a guy who dribbles it down. It’s a guy who understands the games within the games. Guys who dictate pace, call plays (sets) and are essentially coaches on the floor. NC State and Kevin Keatts never had that this season, and while you can get a long way with scoring guards and good big men, you’ll never compete for anything of worth until you prioritize the skill set of a true point guard. I think that has been NC State’s problem for years, and I find it kind of insane that coach after coach falls into this idea of having a scoring guard play as a PG for more offense to get on the court.

This is no shot at Jarkel, either. The guy was one of my favorite players to watch on this team, but it just is what it is. He is a scoring guard who happens to be slotting in at PG. When you see Keatts bring in a guy whose priority is getting his guys open and dictating pace, then you can start to believe that this program may be close to arriving. Until then, sneaking into the tournament and hoping guys get hot hands is as good as it gets.

Look at Kihei Clark (Virginia’s PG). I know it’s not a great time to be talking about Clark, whose errant pass ended up losing the game for Virginia on Thursday, but look at Clark’s build.5’10, 170lbs. Look at his stats. Mid-30s shooting % from 3. Hight 70s from the FT line. The guy is nothing special when it comes to the numbers, but he’s a leader and he distributes the basketball to the right guys at the right time. Tony Bennett has started Clark for 4 years despite the fact that he’s coaching a team that is always in the running to win the ACC and won a national championship less than 5 years ago.  He could replace Clark with an elite, tall, athlete at any moment. But he doesn’t. Why? Because he understands what I’m talking about. It’s a puzzle that coaches need to put together, and one piece of that puzzle is a guy like this.

I was wrong about this game. I thought things would play out differently. They didn’t. I’m not blaming anyone in particular, but the makeup of this team vs. the makeup of teams that play deep into March are different. Maybe this is step one to getting there. We’ll have to see how the roster shapes up next season.

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VIDEO: NC State falls to Creighton 72-63 in first round of NCAA Tournament | Extended Highlights & Box Score

NC State came out flat, DJ Burns looked gassed, and for the most part, the Pack looked shell-shocked vs. Creighton from the opening tip. However, Terquavion Smith is excluded from all of that. He was amazing and in what was likely his final game at NC State, he kept the Pack afloat, dropping 32 points on 12-25 shooting. In the end, it wasn’t enough as their big man, 7’1 Ryan Kalkbrenner went for 31.



NC State came out flat, DJ Burns looked gassed, and for the most part, the Pack looked shell-shocked vs. Creighton from the opening tip. However, Terquavion Smith is excluded from all of that. He was amazing and in what was likely his final game at NC State, he kept the Pack afloat, dropping 32 points on 12-25 shooting. In the end, it wasn’t enough as their big man, 7’1 Ryan Kalkbrenner went for 31.

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