NC State junior Trevor Lacey was a gigantic part of NC State’s success this season. After sitting out a year post transfer, Lacey worked hard on getting his body in shape and regaining the swagger he had coming out of high school as one of the nations best scorers. This season you could see the fruits of his labor. Lacey was had trimmed down the fat and added some good muscle. With that transformation he was able to lead the Pack in scoring with 16ppg on 44% shooting. He also knocked down 40% of his 3s. Here are the grades on Trevor.
Coming into the season there was a lot of talk about how great of a scorer Lacey was going to be. With Warren moving on to the NBA, State fans were pinning a lot of their hopes on this kid. They said he was Warren-lite with the basketball, but after seeing just how amazing TJ was and having not see State really have that type of prolific go-to scorer for many year prior, it was just kind of hard to believe. Then in the red/white game, Lacey couldn’t buy a bucket and seemed hesitant to really try to take on a scoring role. It was the fan’s first glimpse of him and it had them wondering who they were going to lean on for scoring. Well, looks like we all had jumped the gun. When regular season arrived, so did Trevor Lacey. The kid was just phenomenal at creating and making his own shot. He dominated early in the season as he hovered around the 18ppg mark. Teams tried to match up against him with small guards, but he shot over top of them with great accuracy. Lacey honestly was dominant and probably one of the most dangerous guards in the league over the first 10 games. Then there was a bump in the road. Teams began to examine how he was attacking them. He was much too reliant on his pull up jumper and rarely took the ball to the basket. Teams started using taller, more athletic guards on him. He couldn’t shoot over them and he just wasn’t quick enough to go by them. He found himself at a crossroads and needed to alter his style of play if he wanted to lead State to a March run. He started driving a little more and creating in the lane, but he still didn’ look comfortable at first. Then as he started to embrace the contact and refine his game to include moves around the basket. He worked on his step back jumper and learned new ways to create space. This brought Trevor to a new level and helped him round back into form as an elite scorer. His offense was the main reason State was able to make such a strong late season run and will be featured player in the ACC next season.
Lacey is a good defender. He has the size and strength to guard strong guards and he plays very good position defense against smaller quicker guards. He is crafty and makes up for slightly slower footwork by understanding angles and positioning. His defense is along the lines of former NC State guard Engin Atsur. While I don’t think Lacey is as good a defender at this moment, I think he can be. He and Atsur had about the same foot speed and were both bigger guards who had to defend a wide range of opponents. There was never a game where Lacey just got eaten alive, but there was also not many moment when Lacey defense was changing the game either.
Not only was he a good scorer, but Trevor Lacey also wore a lot of other hats for this Wolfpack team. He was their vocal leader, he was their cold blooded late game shot taker, he was pretty much the backbone of this basketball team. He played with good body language (most of the time) and really instilled confidence in his guys. He never demanded the basketball and was quick to pass up a good shot for a teammates great shot. With all of this came a very high in-game IQ, all while learning to play in the ACC for the first time.
Lacey could and should receive all A’s across the board next season. Offensively he’s going to get better. As good as he was, he has the ability to be a 20+ppg scorer for this team. After going through the ups and downs of the prior season he can get a sense of how opponents want to defend him. He’ll have a full offseason to refine new moves to free him up, and also get comfortable scoring from spots that teams seem to be forcing him into.
Defensively I don’t think Lacey needs to improve technically, but he does need to come into next season in elite shape. While he added strength last year and came into the season in good shape, I think the next step is for him to lean up while keeping his current strength and take his training to the next level this offseason. He’ll be looked to for major minutes next year and will be matched up against some big time scorers. If Lacey can get quicker, stronger and up his endurance (which was already good this season), he’ll be able to launch into super star status (something NC State will need if they want to be a top 10 team next year).
Lacey was a good leader and next year this is going to be his team. No deferring to other upper classmen, no questioning missed calls. Lacey needs to be above that. He needs to be completely focused on keeping his team completely focused and consumed by a drive to take this team to the Final Four next season. If he does that, then not only will NC State be successful, but Trevor Lacey will be punching his NBA ticket without a doubt.
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%.
NC State is Looking to Snap a 6-Game Losing Streak to Syracuse
NC State might be a 5.5-point favorite this evening agains Syracuse, but beating the Orange hasn’t been easy for the Wolfpack over the past couple of years. Syracuse has defeated NC State in 6 consecutive games.
The 6-game losing streak is the Wolfpack’s longest current losing streak. The Pack are in familiar territory, after snapping a 6-game losing streak to Clemson their last time out.
Kevin Keatts started off his tenure in Raleigh by beating the Orange in 3 consecutive games, but has lost the last 6 obviously.
The last time NC State defeated Syracuse was on February 11th, 2020, winning 79-74 on the road. The last time the Wolfpack beat Syracuse at home was the year before, winning decisively 73-58 in PNC Arena on February 13th, 2019.
In three of the losses, the Wolfpack was upset.