NC State Wolfpack vs. UMKC Kangaroos
Gametime: 2:00 pm
Streaming: Watch ESPN App (ACC Network Extra)
Location: Reynolds Coliseum (Raleigh, NC)
Get to know the University of Missouri Kansas City:
UMKC comes to Raleigh with a not-so-impressive 2-7 record. Notable losses include a 52 point beat-down at the hands of #9 Witchita State and a 21 point thumping from unranked Kansas State,
The Kangaroos are led by Brodrick Robinson, a 6’1 senior who is averaging 12ppg and likes to shoot the 3. He’s hitting 39% of them on the season. In fact, it isn’t just Brodrick who’s putting up a lot of 3 balls, this entire team likes to shoot them. So far this season they have attempted 269 3s, which makes up 46% of all their shot attempts.
Aside from Robinson, UMKC relies on a trio of sophomores in Isaiah Ross (6’4), Xavier Bishop (5’8) and Jordan Giles. (6’7). To put it bluntly, this team is young, small and love to hoist up 3s. It’s not exactly the type of team that you’d, on paper, think would cause NC State any real trouble.
What to watch for from NC State
Feed the bigs: Omer Yurtseven has arrived for NC State. He’s score 17 or more in 3 of the past 4 games. During that span, he’s shooting an insane 74% from the floor, including 5-6 from 3pt range. Meanwhile, not to be outdone, Lennard Freeman has quietly become the NATION’S LEADER in offensive rating. These guys are big, strong, and efficient and it’s slowly becoming apparent that the Wolfpack’s real strength lies in their frontcourt. Against UMKC be ready to see a heavy dose of these two as the ‘Roos really don’t have a single guy on their roster who can match up.
The return of Abu?: No word yet on whether this is happening, but Keatts mentioned to the press that Abu has been practicing with the team and is making great progress. Will he suit up in this one? If he does, he’ll likely see minimal minutes. The Pack needs Abu for their ACC run, so don’t be surprised to see them baby him back into game shape. We could be wrong, be we don’t expect them to fully take the reigns off the senior big man for another week or two.
Domination on the offensive glass: If you win the battle on the offensive glass, you are certainly going to give yourself a good chance to win the game. Lately, NC State has been doing a pretty good job there. Torin Dorn has become a rebounding machine from the wing position and Omer Yurtseven currently ranks TOP-10 IN THE NATION in offensive rebounding percentage. UMKC doesn’t have the size or physicality to hang in the paint with these guys, so unless the Pack comes out soft, they should obliterate the Kangaroos in this category.
Trying to figure out the Beverly, Markell balance: NC State has two good point guards. Beverly has done a good job since he’s gotten settled in. He’s really running the team well, dictating pace and protecting the basketball. Meanwhile, Markell Johnson has seen his productivity slip. It’s clear that he is searching out his role right now, and it’s not about minutes. Johnson is going to play, but what is he supposed to do if Beverly is doing a lot of the stuff he wants to do. Keatts is trying to find a balance where both guys can feel comfortable on the floor together. Even with a fall off in production during the Bahama trip, Markell Johnson still is TOP-1o in the nation in assist %, meaning he’s obviously still making things happen. Keatts is trying to get him to be more of a leader and to be able to play fast but also take care of the basketball.We’re watching this closely, because if he can get these two guys clicking at the same time, along with Al Freeman’s play and the dominance of the frontcourt, then NC State is going to be tough to beat.