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NC State vs Pittsburgh: Keys to the Game

NC State Basketball

NC State vs Pittsburgh: Keys to the Game

NC State vs Pitt
7pm | PNC Arena | ESPNU

NC State hosts Pittsburgh tonight at 7 o’clock as they look to end a three-game losing streak, ESPNU will have coverage. The Panthers have been struggling of late due to injuries, including second-leading scorer Michael Young, who fractured his orbital bone. Senior Michael Young will be in the lineup wearing a custom fit mask to protect his eye. What must the Pack do to end their three-game skid?

NC State will need to give maximum defensive effort to win.

Pittsburgh has the two leading scorers in the ACC in Jamel Artis and Michael Young. The two seniors are quite the one-two punch as they average 22.3 and 20.8 points per game. Their size presents a unique challenge for defenders as Artis stands 6-7 and Young is 6-9. Mark Gottfried will most likely put Henderson on Artis and Malik Abu on Young. Terry will have to be ready to run Artis off the three-point line as he can fill it up from the outside. Another thing Terry can do to keep Artis from getting into a rhythm is to work hard at denying him the ball. Jamel plays heavy minutes (35 per game) it will be critical that NC State doesn’t give him anything easy in that time.

Abu, on the other hand, will need to be disciplined in extending his defense to the three-point line. Michael Young is a good shooter from three as he is connecting on 40% of his attempts from the arc. This is a scary mismatch for NC State. Abu has hasn’t been good when asked to guard a more versatile big. Tonight, he must contest under control because he cannot afford to foul Young on three-point attempts. It will be NC State as a whole’s responsibility to take away these two scorers. All five players on the court need to be locked in, with a mindset that they are not going to give up easy baskets.

Offensively NC State needs to move the ball and limit empty possessions.

Dennis Smith controls the ball a lot, which means he has a responsibility to get the offense moving in the right direction. He has to do a better job getting everyone involved early. Smith leads the ACC in APG; however, he can help his team by eliminating his “no one else touches the ball” jump shots. NC State has plenty of weapons, they just need to get the ball in their spots. The Pack will be more fluid if they allow Abu to catch the ball deep in the paint and give him 1-on-1 matchups out of the high post. Guards will then have more space on the outside to attack the paint. Malik Abu and company will also demand attention with double teams which will yield open looks from three. An inside-out attack from the start will help NC State beat Pitt.

NC State needs to make Jamel Artis and Michael Young play defense.

Jamel Artis and Micahel Young are the heart and soul of the Panthers. NC State needs to make them work on both ends by making them play defense. If either one of these guys gets into foul trouble, forcing Coach Stallings to sit them for an extended period, they will struggle. Michael Young was less than himself aginst Miami as he struggled to adjust to playing with a mask, and because of this Pitt only scored 46 points. Both Artis and Young rely on each other to take pressure off of one another. Pittsburgh is not as difficult to matchup against if they are not on the court together.

Tonight’s game will be a glimpse into the type of team we will see for the rest of the season. Mark Gottfried did not hold back in his postgame by calling out his team’s defensive effort, or lack thereof. The players have to hold themselves and each other accountable defensively and not let one another shirk on the job. Can NC State get a win over Pittsburgh tonight? They have the talent; however, it will be all about working hard and leaving it all on the court. Game time is at 7 o’clock with coverage on ESPNU.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. wolfpack74

    January 18, 2017 at 3:10 am

    Finally off the bottom.

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