Abdul-Malik Abu finally had his breakout game, but it wasn’t enough as the Pack fell to 0-4 in the ACC with their 85-78 loss to the Seminoles.
Where is the defense?
“78 points should have been enough to win this game.” said Gottfried after the game. He’s right. As we stated earlier this season, this Wolfpack team will need to become a lock down defensive team if they want to compete in this league. Right now they are anything but. FSU shot 50% from the field and the Wolfpack defense looked out of sync and undisciplined. Too often they jumped at pump fakes, were late to rotate on help side and simply failed to box out. These are the little things that are losing this team basketball games and things that quickly need to be fixed going into a game against #5 UNC.
Abu breaks out
There he is!! This is the Abu this team has desperately needed. He came out against a much taller front court and put up a monster of a game. He beasted his way to 21 points, 13 boards and 6 assists. With the offensive struggles this team goes through in stretches, Abu needs to become a major focal point of this offense. If he plays with this type of aggression and physicality, NC State might have found the balance from the front court that they’ve been missing. If you remember late last season, NC State’s surge was in direct correlation to Abu’s breakout. Maybe this performance will be the springboard for a monster 2nd half of the season.
Caleb Martin struggling
NC State needs to make adjustments. Caleb Martin is a talented player, there is no doubt about it. He is going to be a big part of this basketball team’s future, but at 0-4 in the ACC you’d have to think that there is going to be some sort of reevaluation.
The quagmire here is that Gottfried knows his team needs scoring. Early in the season it was Caleb who backed up Cat in that category. Right now, however, State is giving away too many possessions by settling for 3s from guys who simply aren’t really shooting it that well right now. Instead of attacking the rim, getting to the line or dumping it down to the post and making the defense adjust, they are simply settling for 3’s that they just aren’t hitting.
Over the last 9 games Caleb Martin is shooting 22-80 from the field. That is 27.5%. He’s hit 13-60 from beyond the arc, for 22%. He’s grabbed 45 rebounds in that span and has 12 assists in 292 minutes of play.
State needs to maximize their possessions and really work on their offensive efficiency. You know Caleb wants to get his shot going, but volume shooting and hitting under 30% of your shots isn’t going to turn this season around.
Where to turn?
There are a lot of options here. You can keep playing how you are playing and hope things simply shake out (however, you are starting to run out of time), or you can make a few minor adjustments. Going forward, you’ll likely see Abu playing a bigger role. After Barber, no one should touch the ball more than Abu. He’s going to need to be a major force if State is going to make any sort of run.
Rewarding the fundamentals is hopefully what you see next. Putting up big points is sexy, but boxing out, getting in the passing lanes on defense, taking smart shots and being patient on offense are what is going to make this team a contender. Those who can do this should see an uptick in minutes, while those who don’t should find extra bench time. This means Freeman and Cody Martin should and could find themselves in starting roles and seeing increased minutes. They aren’t going to put up points, but they are the two that are up for taking care of the dirty work that others fail to do. With the emergence of Abu over the past weeks and his huge game last night, you have to believe you’ll see him and Cat be the focal points with State looking for ways to rotate Mav and Caleb together in and out at the 2 until they can start knocking down shots more consistently.
Hopefully they find something that helps them turn the corner, because #5 UNC is up next on Saturday.
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.
NC State 52 Ole Miss 72: Box Score (with notes)
NC State’s Men’s Basketball team lost it’s second straight game tonight, losing 52-72 on the road at Ole Miss in the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge. Below is the Box Score with some notes below.
- Ben Middlebrooks posted a double-double, with 13 points and 12 boards. To be honest, Middlebrooks was the only bright spot in this game.
- Casey Morsell was the only other player to score in double figures (12 points), but it wasn’t pretty, shooting 5 of 14 from the field.
- One of the poorest statistical shooting performance I can remember.
- NC State shot 31.8% from the field and 12% from three (3-25).
- The Wolfpack’s DNA on defense is turning over their opponent, and they were unable to do so tonight, turning over the Rebels only 7 times.
- For comparison, the Wolfpack turned it over 13 times, giving them a Turnover Margin tonight of -6.
- Heading into tonight, they averaged a Turnover Margin of +7.8.
- Ole Miss scored 13 points off of turnovers, compared to NC State’s 4.
- This is the first time this season that NC State failed to force their opponent to commit at least 10 turovers.
- NC State was -25 when D.J. Burns was on the court, which was the worst on the team.
- NC State was +3 when L.J. Thomas was on the court, and +2 when Ben Middlebrooks were on the court. They were the only two players in the positive.
- Thomas and Middlebrooks should have earned themselves some more playing time going forward.
- Ole Miss’ length was problematic for the Wolfpack, blocking 9 of their shots.
There will be more analysis on this game coming tomorrow.