NC State topped Presbyterian 86-68 on Thursday night, but that score doesn’t even start to tell the real story of this basketball game.
Fatigue tested them. They passed.
When some of Gottfried’s teams would play a few games in a week and people would talk about fatigue being an issue, I never bought it. Those teams weren’t playing hard enough to have 18 years olds unable to recover in a 48-hour timespan.
This year’s Keatts led Wolfpack? Yeah, I’m 100% buying it. These guys are gassed. They have played full court, high intensity, no breaks basketball 4 out of the last 7 days. They most definitely are having a little bit of the ‘jelly legs.’
It’s no surprise that the Pack came out flat and ended up down 8 over the first 20 minutes. They were a step slow. They were going for steals but having trouble recovering. They were just on a little bit of a delay.
Shooting-wise it showed as well. The Pack shot a miserable 1-13 (13%) from beyond the arc only two days after going 3-18 (17%). Part of this was fatigue, but not all of it. If this team has a weakness it’s going to be 3pt shooting. Freeman is going to consistently hover around 37% from deep, but Sam Hunt in the early going has looked streaky. Braxton Beverly can shoot it, but you can already see that at 6’0 (and that’s being generous), it’s not going to be easy to get off a lot of clean looks.
At the end of the day, I don’t think anyone can argue that fatigue was an issue in this one. This is the most games this team is ever going to play in a week. They went through the gauntlet and survived to tell about it.
NC State only forced 6 turnovers in the first half and what do you know, they were down by 8. In the second half, they upped the pressure and finished with 22 takeaways.
All the talk at the beginning of the season about what Keatts system will look like, or what this team’s identity will be. All of that is answered. This team thrives off of turnovers. This team will win when they can turn people over.
What we’ve already witnessed is an accomplishment. Four games in and they’ve turned their opponent over 20 + times in each outing. The last time an NC State team even had 4 games in a whole season of 20+ was in 2009-10.
NC State was and still is #1 in TO% in the Power 5 conferences, but they’re actually now #2 in all of the NCAA. Yes, it’s early. Yes, these teams aren’t great, but almost every team is playing a cupcake schedule up to this point. What Keatts has them doing is pretty special.
It’s time to start taking Lennard Freeman seriously
Lennard Freeman is a perfect example of how hard work pays off. He wasn’t projected to be much on offense and he was an undersized rebounder who was out there to basically eat minutes.
I guess he wasn’t happy with that. Freeman has transformed his body. He’s put on (good) weight and his shoulders are massive. He’s moving people around in the paint and he’s actually got really nice touch around the basket.
Honestly, I’m not sure how to project him right now. He’s scored 20+ in his last two games, but as State starts facing bigger, stronger guys, how will he make out?
He absolutely ruined Prysbetarian in the paint. They tried muscling-up against him. They lost. They tried bothering him with smaller guys. They lost. They even tried flopping a few times to see if they could draw the charge. They lost.
Freeman is going to have some big games when he faces a guy his height. My fear is that he’s still going to struggle some offensively when he faces a taller front line. Richard Howell had the same problem when he was in Raleigh. Neither Howell nor Freeman are tall or have long wingspans, and creating space with your shoulders only buys you so many inches. It’s something to watch for when State takes on Arizona next week (a team with two 7 footers).
A win is a win. Starting out with 4 games in 7 days when you play at this pace is crazy. These guys haven’t been in Keatts system long enough to have conditioned themselves for that type of abuse, but they handled it well and found a way to win.
Things that stuck out were the fact that they shot poorly from outside yet still put up 86 points. They played a really bad first half defensively and still came out with over 20 forced TOs. But the thing that was most impessive was their poise and their ability to focus.
Keatts hasn’t just whipped these kid’s bodies into shape, he’s conditioned them mentally. This team has a different type of confidence. They know they are working harder than their opponent, so they expect to win. They expect to come back when they get down. He’s preaching trust and belief in the system and he’s getting buy-in.
I don’t know where this team ends up, but I know that Keatts is teaching a championship style of basketball and if he can catch a few breaks and get his shooters clicking, then NC State is going to shock a lot of people.
Clemson 81 NC State 70: OUR TAKE
NC State Head Coach Kevin Keatts said that his team didn’t “play great” against Clemson this afternoon, in their 81-70 loss to the Tigers.
That was an understatement.
Sometimes I wish a coach would come out and say the truth
The Wolfpack played terrible down in South Carolina.
Clemson outshot NC State in every category.
Clemson – 46.9/32.1/83.9
NC State – 44.1/23.8/68.4
The Tigers out rebounded the Wolfpack by 4. They had more second chance points (+2) and more points off turnovers (+6).
Clemson shot 12 more free throws.
They shared the ball better, netting 5 more assists.
The stats weren’t in their favor to walk away with the victory, but maybe what was most disappointing was the overall lack of effort.
Senior Markell Johnson still hasn’t figured out how to play consistent basketball, in production or effort, and we are half way through year 4.
The coaches ability to adjust has to be called into question after today’s performance. Clemson abused the Wolfpack with backdoor cuts and slipping screens for 40 straight minutes. Also, I’m all for aggressive defense, but failing to put the hand in the face of wide open three-point shooters is inexcusable.
NC State was without Redshirt Senior Guard C.J. Bryce, who leads the team in scoring and rebounding. Obviously, his presence was missed, and the game could have been different with him on the court.
This loss doesn’t ruin a season, and obviously the team can rebound from it, but the deja vu of losses like these become exhausting.
Clemson 81 NC State 70: ACCDN HIGHLIGHT REEL & CONDENSED GAME
NC State fell to 10-4 today, losing to Clemson 81-70 on the road. The ACC Digital Network’s Highlight Reel and Condensed Game is below.
Clemson 81 NC State 70: BOX SCORE
NC State is a 2-Point Favorite at Clemson
NC State Men’s Basketball team will hit the road today, playing at Clemson today at Noon, and the Wolfpack will hit the court as 2-point favorites. The Total is currently 136.5.
The Wolfpack is 7-5-1 Against the Spread on the year, and Clemson is 7-6. NC State is 10-2 as the favorite, and Clemson is 1-3 as the Underdog. The Wolfpack are 3-0 Against the Spread on the road, and the Tigers are 5-4 Against the Spread at home.
For both teams, the Total has gone Under in 7 of their 13 games.
- North Carolina State are 4-1-1 Against The Spread in their last 6 games.
- The total has gone UNDER in 4 of North Carolina State’s last 6 games.
- North Carolina State are 7-0 Against The Spread in their last 7 games on the road.
- The total has gone UNDER in 5 of North Carolina State’s last 7 games against an opponent in the Atlantic Coast conference.
- The total has gone UNDER in 4 of North Carolina State’s last 5 games played in January.
- Clemson are 1-5 Against The Spread in their last 6 games.
- The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Clemson’s last 5 games.
- The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Clemson’s last 6 games against North Carolina State.
- Clemson are 1-4 Against The Spread in their last 5 games this season.
- The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Clemson’s last 6 games against an opponent in the Atlantic Coast conference.
- Clemson are 5-1 Against The Spread in their last 6 games played on a Saturday. (OddShark)