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Inside the (advanced) Boxscore: How NC State shocked #19 Clemson



There were things that Kevin Keatts wanted to make sure of this time around against Clemson.

It was only about two weeks ago that the Pack fell 78-62 to the Tigers, but it was more of a “we beat ourselves” type of loss. The Pack played sloppy, selfish basketball and really didn’t have the energy or enthusiasm you need on the road in the ACC.

Those things needed to change this time around, and they did.

NC State came out of the gates hungry. They were playing max-effort defense for a majority of this basketball game. They were playing a much more team-oriented brand of basketball, and of course, they had a much different version of Omer Yurtseven.

These things were obvious to the eye,  but how did they play out statistically?

To get a better understanding of that, we took a look at the advanced statistics.

NC State: 49.3
Clemson: 58.5

Takeaway: NC State played great pressure defense against the Tigers, but that doesn’t mean it was without flaws. State did a poor job guarding the pick and roll, allowing Clemson to get a lot of clean looks and they knocked them down. Credit the Tigers. They can flat out shoot it. They also did a great job at exploiting mismatches. Donte Grantham dropped 16, and most of those were just him beating Lennard Freeman or Malik Abu off the bounce. This Clemson team is good. They play solid defense and have a high-efficiency offense.

Meanwhile, although the NC State number doesn’t look bad at all, they didn’t necessarily have a great offensive game. Omer Yurtseven did. Take away Yurt’s 12-18 (67%) and 5-6 from 3pt range, the Pack shot just 16-49 for 33% and 5-15 for 33%. Actually, this was a game NC State normally loses. When Beverly and Al Freeman go cold, it usually equals a long night. However, 29 points and a large usage rate for Yurtseven pushed the Pack to victory. It just goes to show how having just one more guy step up on offense can drastically change the outlook of this team. Add in the fact that Markell Johnson is returning, and all of the sudden, this team is dangerous.

NC State: 5
Clemson: 20.3

Takeaway: Biggest stat of the game right here. The Wolfpack did a great job at turning over the Tigers. They forced 17 turnovers, which is just a little above average for them, but they did it against a team that usually is pretty good at taking care of the ball (13 TOs per game). Couple that with the fact that NC State had it’s lowest turnover total of the season with only 4 and you have a recipe for success.

Credit the Pack for really coming out of the gate hard and putting tons of pressure on the Clemson guards. Batts, Beverly, Freeman, and Dorn all played really physical and very aggressive. This sped up Clemson a good deal and forced them into making a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes. There was a stretch about three quarters through the second half where you could just see Keatts obsession with conditioning paying off. The Clemson guards were tired and settling for poor shots, while NC State’s defense kept coming in waves.

Let’s also not forget to give credit to the Wolfpack point guards. Braxton Beverly and Lavar Batts Jr are both freshmen. They just handled a very talented, veteran defense and combined for only 1 turnover. That type of poise and execution out of first-year players is unheard of. These guys were big reasons NC State won this game.

NC State: 20.5
Clemson: 34.6

Takeaway: It was obvious that Clemson’s focal point this game was to beat NC State on the boards. The Pack out muscled Clemson in the paint on the first meeting and Brownell and his men weren’t going to have it again. State is one of the ACC’s best on the offensive glass, but Clemson kept them off of it and ended beating them at their own game.

Steal %
NC State: 15.5
Clemson: 0

Takeaway: NC State had 11 steals on the night. Lavar Batts Jr had 5 of those. This kid is becoming a lockdown defender and he’s halfway through his first college season. His dogging of the opposing guards should be credited for a more than just 5 turnovers. He sped up Reed all night long and made him think twice about forcing the issue on the drive. These past few games have been massive for Batts, who now will get to team up with Markell Johnson at times. That backcourt should have opposing guards shaking in their boots. Just getting the ball down the court is going to take a lot of energy with these two out there.

The other big stat here is the zero from Clemson. Brownell will say his guys didn’t pressure enough on defense, and maybe that is true, but to me, it looked like NC State just played smart, focused basketball at the guard position. State finished with 15 assists on 28 made FGs, so it’s not like they were playing it safe. Clemson’s inability to turn NC State over definitely factored into this loss, but I think it’s more about the Wolfpack guards playing a great game, than it is Clemson playing poorly.


Assist %
NC State: 53.6
Clemson: 35.7

Takeaway; Two games in a row now where NC State has been at 50% or above. It’s no coincidence that a high assist % is going hand in hand with big wins. When you share the basketball, the game becomes a lot easier. Getting open shots becomes a lot easier. Having fun becomes a lot easier, and you’re seeing that for the Wolfpack.

But where are those assists coming from? You expect them from Batts and Beverly but it’s been Al Freeman who has changed his approach and can be credited with helping this offense start to trend up. He finished with 5 assists for the second consecutive game. He only had 5 one other time all season and it was against lowly Jacksonville. He’s still volume shooting a little too much, but you’ll deal with the tradeoff when he’s responsible for a third of your team’s assists.


In conclusion…
NC State played ‘Keatts basketball’ on this night. They hounded the opposing guards, forcing a faster tempo and 17 turnovers. On offense, while the rest of the team struggled to shoot it, Omer Yurtseven played the best game of his college career. His 67% from the floor and 29 points were the difference maker.

Is any of this repeatable?

Well, the team defense seems to be something that is starting to stick. They are really getting after it lately and there aren’t any true outliers as far as the defensive statistics go. 40 deflections last night was likely their best by far in ACC play and the maturation of Batts is a big boost for that side of the ball.

Offensively they are definitely listening to Keatts when he talks about sharing the ball. All Freeman seems to be the one responsible for the change. When the team sees him moving it, they don’t mind moving it. Creating for your teammates is the easiest way to an open look, and right now you have 3 guys doing that, making NC State a lot more efficient then they were earlier this season.

I think you are seeing certain players mature, and this isn’t a statistics thing, but just the confidence you’re seeing from guys like Yurtseven, Batts and Beverly is starting to show a lot more these days. Those guys growing up is going to help NC State all around. Add Markell Johnson back to this mix and all of the sudden, NC State looks like a very tough opponent on most nights.





NC State Basketball

Rothstein (CBS) hearing NC State could play PG heavy, be one of ACC’s fastest teams



Jon Rothstien (CBS college basketball reporter) tweeted out something we found pretty interesting a couple days ago.

Instead of just retweeting this, we wanted to dive into it just a bit. Rothstein has great sources and wouldn’t tweet this if who he was hearing it from someone on (or close to) the staff. So there is no question about its authenticity, it’s more about what this might hint at for this year’s team.

If you watched Kevin Keatts’ team last season, then you know he likes to play small and fast. The 6’5 Torin Dorn played most of his minutes at the 4 and found a ton of success there. However, this year Keatts has a group of more versatile bigs (Funderburk, Steere, Walker).

This means there may be times when Keatts might feel comfortable shifting Dorn to the 3. If he does that, he’ll also be shifting freshman Jerricole Hellems to the 3 (he is likely being groomed for the ‘Dorn role.’) In this scenario the Pack is now busting at the seems with guards. You’d now have Markell, Beverly, Blake Harris, Devon Daniels, Eric Lockett, and CJ Bryce vying for the remaining 2 guard spots.

Now that scenario is probably not happening a majority of the time. Usually, you’ll see Walker at center and Dorn as the PF. This means that a combination of Johnson, Beverly, Harris, Daniels, and Bryce will fill out the 1 through 3 spots. If this tweet is correct and Keatts goes with Johnson, Beverly, and Harris (the 3 PGs) you’d be sitting Devon Daniel, CJ Bryce, and Eric Lockett.

If you ask us, this is very unlikely. Daniel and Bryce are two extremely important pieces for Keatts. Daniels is by far the best scorer on this team and Bryce is the quintessential Keatts-guy. He’s played for him at UNC-W, he defends multiple positions, he is a great decision maker and is a valuable slasher from the wing. And then there is Eric Lockett, who you’d be wrong to discount as an after thought. From everything we’re hearing, the staff is loving Lockett and he’s going to get minutes on this team.

So what scenarios can we actually expect to see the 3 PGs on the court together?

Our guess is that you might see it when there is foul trouble, or when NC State is in a late game situation and they need elite ball-handling. What we are saying is, don’t read this tweet and bank on seeing that lineup a bunch this season.

Obviously, Keatts wants to prepare for anything, so practicing a lineup with the 3 PGs is worth it. The bigger takeaway here is that Keatts options are nearly unlimited. He has two (sometimes 3) deep high-level talent at every position, so he may look to get creative early in the season.

And as far as speed? Rothstein hints that this 3 PG lineup makes NC State one of the fastest teams in the ACC? We’d argue that this is the fastest team in the ACC with their expected starting lineup of Markell Johnson, Devon Daniels, CJ Bryce, Torin Dorn and Wyatt Walker.

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NC State Basketball

Partner With Kevin Keatts as He Helps the State of North Carolina



You can make a difference in helping those that are hurting in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence through parntering with NC State. You can also partner with one of their greatest basketball players of all-time in TJ Warren.

Now, you can partner with NC State Men’s Basketball head coach Kevin Keatts as well.

Send your socks, t-shirts and hats to the address below:

Life Storage
Hurricane Florence Relief
5738 Dillard Dr.
Cary, NC 27518

Other NCAA Men’s Basketball coaches and Sports Media are rallying behind what Keatts is trying to do.

Here’s some of what Keatts said to Joe Giglio of the News & Observer about his heart behind this initiative:

“It’s tough,” Keatts said. “I have so many great relationships with friends in the Wilmington area. I could hear it in their voice, on the other end of the phone, how they sounded. They’ve lost power, they’ve had their houses torn up. It really touched me. I lived there and I realized that could be any of us.”

“I just wanted to get involved and try to help,” Keatts said. “I think it’s important to help when you can because at some point, everybody is going to need help. If I can assist in a time of need, I want to be able to do that.” (N&O)

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NC State Basketball

VIDEO: Devon Daniels preparing to shoulder the load for NC State



Devon Daniels may be new to NC State, but he knows that a lot is going to be asked of him this season.

When you look at the Wolfpack roster, most people key on Markell Johnson and Torin Dorn as the keys to the season. It makes sense. These guys are known entities, but just as important to the success of the Wolfpack is Daniels.

The transfer from Utah is the one guy on the roster who has the skillset to fill in for last year’s leading scorer Al Freeman.

Of course, this team is going to want to run. They are going to play fast and look to get out on the break, but there will be a lot of times when things slow down, or when plays break down. Those situations are where Al Freeman bailed out the Pack time after time, and this year that job is going to fall on the shoulders of Devon Daniels.

From the looks of it, he’s taking that role pretty seriously.

Daniels averaged 10 points in only 27 minutes per game last season. He shot an impressive 57% from the floor and a juicy 40% from long range. It’s safe to say that the kid proved he can score it. However, at Utah, he was a role player. At NC State he’s going to be relied on for a lot more.

Forced to sit last season due to transfer rules, Daniels got his body ACC ready, polished up his skill set and even added a little more bounce to his game.

Everyone knows that preseasons videos are mostly just fuel for the hype-train, but Daniels has posted videos like this before and it seems as if this type of workout is less the exception and more the norm. And if that’s the case, then NC State fans have a good reason to get excited.

Want to discuss whether or not Devon Daniels is going to live up to the hype? We’re talking about it here on the message boards.

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OUR TAKE: An in-depth look at NC State’s non-conference schedule



Earlier today, the full 2018-19 NC State basketball schedule was announced.

There had been games announced here and there, and the ACC docket was already set, but this is the first time we’ve seen the full non-conference schedule and it’s pretty interesting.

Here are some of our notes and thoughts on the early season matchups…

  • NC State plays their first 6 games at home and they should be relatively easy. That is a good thing. This is a team with a lot of new pieces, and it’s going to take a little while for this group to get kicking on all cylinders. (It may also take time for these guys to get used to the substitution patterns in Keatts system.)
  • NC State plays at Wisconsin in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. This will be the team’s first road game and will be their first true test. Wisconsin is coming off a tough season in which they finished 9th in their conference. However, they have a ton of returning talent including their star forward Ethan Happ (who averaged 17 ppg last season.)
  • Less than a week later, they play a rebuilt Vanderbilt team in Miami.  A tough turnaround for the Pack as they head from Wisconsin to Miami, Florida for the HoopHall Invitational to face off against Vandy. This is another big name school who struggled last year, finishing 12-20 and coming in 2nd to last in the SEC. However, they have some big-time freshman joining them in 2018. Darius Garland is the #14 player in this class and the #2 PG. Head coach Bryce Drew compared him to Trae Young over the summer. They are also adding the #11 player in the class (and #3 PF) Simisola Shittu. Add on that they have two good bigs who transferred in and are eligible this year (Yanni Wetzell and Matt Ryan) and Vandy seems to have a very good shot at improving on their disastrous 2017-18 season.
  • Then NC State takes on Western Carolina at Reynolds. This is the first that we’ve heard that WCU would be the Reynolds game, but it makes sense. Former NC State assistant (who was also the former WCU head coach) Larry Hunter, recently passed away and will likely be honored during this game.
  • NC State takes on Penn State in Atlantic City. This is a game for the “Boardwalk Classic” which isn’t a tournament, but more like a day where a bunch of teams play in Atlantic City, NJ. The Pack beat Penn State last season 85-78 in a ‘grind-it-out’ kind of game but was lit up by Tony Carr for 29 points. Lucky for Keatts and company, Carr is in the NBA now, so that threat has passed. However, Penn State is no pushover. They finished 9-9 in the Big Ten, good for 6th place (and an eventual NIT championship). This year their main guy will be Lamar Stevens. He’s a junior who really came into his own last season. He dropped 13 against the Pack last year but really got things going at the end of the year. His 28 points outburst in the NIT Championship sets the stage for his coming out party in 2018-19.
  • NC State takes on #10 Auburn on Dec 19th. The Tigers, led by Bruce Pearl, were one of the more surprising teams of 2017-18. They finished with the second most wins in program history (26) and notched a 4-seed in the NCAA Tournament. If you watched Auburn last season, you know that they play an uptempo, defensive heavy brand of basketball. This should make for a really fun, fast-paced matchup. While they did lose a few key guys from last season (Mustapha Heron), they are returning star guard Jared Harper. He’s a junior who was the team’s 3rd leading scorer and put up 5.4 assists per game. While he’s only 5’10, he can really create and has near unlimited range. They also bring back guard Bryce Brown, the team’s second-leading scorer from a season ago. But the biggest news is the return of former 5-star, 6’11 monster, Austin Wiley, who was suspended last season in connection with the sweeping FBI investigation around college basketball. Wiley almost entered the draft, but he decided to come back, giving Auburn an elite big to pair with their dangerous duo of guards. This matchup is easily the toughest of NC State’s non-conference schedule.
  • They finish with 2 winnable games heading into conference play – USC Upstate and Loyola Maryland close out the non-conference schedule. After going through a bit of a gauntlet in late November to mid-December, they finally get a few games to work out some kinks heading into their ACC opener vs. Miami

As you can see, NC State has what I think is a decent non-conference schedule. They open up with some easier games which will give them time to gel and figure themselves out. Then they play some good (but beatable) teams in late November and cap it off with their biggest test yet… #10 Auburn.

It seems like this layout allows the Pack to ramp up at a nice cadence. This is helpful seeing as it’s going to be their first season playing the way the Keatts’ system was meant to be played.

This schedule does give them chances for a few resume builders before conference rolls around, but they’ll need to take advantage of those few chances or it will hurt them come March.


Want to talk about the non-conference schedule or see what other State fans think? We are discussing it right here in the forum.

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