NC State held on to beat Pittsburgh 79-74. Mark Gottfried wanted to see more effort out of his players and they indeed played with intensity and desire. What are some of the headlines from last night’s game?
Markell Johnson’s energy, defense, and playmaking influenced the game for NC State.
The freshman guard had a big night for NC State as he scored 8 points and recorded 7 assists. Defensively Johnson was outstanding as he took away passing lanes, pressured the ball, and contested shots well. Mark Gottfried could not keep him off the court as his play earned 33 minutes of playing time. NC State’s offense hummed with Johnson penetrating the Pitt defense to find open players. The Wolfpack have a unique advantage when both Johnson and Smith are on the court together as both players find the paint with their quickness. One highlight of the game included a missed shot that saw Markell fly out of nowhere for the tip slam put back! The Pack will be just fine with Markell running the show once Dennis Smith is gone.
Omer Yurtseven showed toughness gathering 16 rebounds and scoring 12 points.
Finally, Omer had an impact on an ACC game in the way he used his length to attack the glass. The Wolfpack outrebounded the Panthers 44-30 because of Yurtseven’s effort on the glass. The seven-footer also knocked down two huge free-throws at the end of the game to help preserve the win. Another positive for Omer was his willingness to attack the rim as he had some nice finishes in traffic. Yurtseven needs to get stronger and stop bringing the ball down once he gets a rebound; however, it was an improvement. Last night’s game can be a confidence builder for the skilled big man and should be a building block for the rest of the year.
Defensively NC State showed improvement but still struggled to guard the three-ball.
The Pitt Panthers have a deadly three-point attack as they spread teams out with their shooters. We knew NC State would struggle to guard Michael Young a big man with three-point range and that was the case. Pittsburgh knocked down 12-28 from the three-point line. The Pack showed improvement by pressuring the ball on the perimeter and making it difficult on Jamel Artis. NC State has to be pleased with holding Artis to just 16 points on 5-15 shooting. Dennis Smith led by example defensively as Mark Gottfried gave him the challenge of guarding Artis and he did a solid job!
Maverick Rowan and Terry Henderson picked up the Wolfpack offensively.
Maverick Rowan knocked down 6-9 threes as he caught fire on the night. Rowan’s teammates did an excellent job at setting him up as well as feeding him once they saw that look in his eye. Terry Henderson had a great game as well scoring 21 points and knocking down four threes. These two players saved the Pack due to Dennis Smith not having his typical scoring night. Not only was Smith off but Abu played just 13 minutes due to fouls.
The Pack finally get off the shneid by beating Pittsburgh. Standing 2-4 in ACC play as they head into Saturday’s game aginst Wake Forest. NC State fought their way back in the second half when it appeared that Pittsburgh was one possession from putting the game away. The Wolfpack refused to quit and despite some shaky execution at the end walked away with the victory. The Wolfpack returns to the court this Saturday at 2 o’clock facing Wake Forest with coverage on the ACC Network.