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NC State vs. #21 UNC: Info, Preview, Keys to the game & How to Watch



NC State Wolfpack vs North Carolina Tar Heels
Gametime: 2:00 pm
Streaming: ACC Network (Fox 50)
Location: PNC Arena (Raleigh, NC)

Getting reacquainted with the Heels…
The last time we previewed the Tar Heels we focused on Joel Berry and Luke Maye. These are Carolina’s leading scorers at 18 and 17 points per game respectively and again, they deserve the most attention. However, UNC has made some adjustments over the past two weeks and have added a little more dimension to their offense.

Suddenly, Junior guard Kenny Williams has become a scoring threat. He only had 4 points the first time these two teams met in Chapel Hill, but over his past 2 games he’s been forcing the issue a bit more and really finding success. He put up 15 points against Pitt and then dropped 20 two nights ago against Duke. Williams was only 1-9 from long range during Carolina’s 3-game losing streak but has snapped out of that funk, hitting on 9 of his last 17 from deep.

It’s  also important that we note Theo Pinson. What he did against the Pack last time out was insane. His 22 points were a season-high. In fact, in the 3 games since the matchup with the Wolfpack, Pinson has a total of 6 points. So did he just get got, or does NC State have a matchup problem? … Probably a little bit of both, but either way, NC State can not allow Pinson to have anywhere near the game he had last time.

As for Berry and Maye, UNC will look for ways to replicate what Maye was able to do while trying to figure out ways to get Berry going early. Joel Berry was bothered by Markell Johnson’s defense and never could get many clean looks in game 1. Meanwhile, Maye went bonkers for 31 points. State will need to replicate their execution on slowing down Berry while figuring out how to neutralize Maye on the interior.


Stats to Watch

  • NC State shooting % – Last time out the Pack shot 44% from the floor and 50% from long range. I don’t think you can rely on another 50% game from long range, but we do think they’ll be able to shoot it at a high clip from the floor vs UNC. Markell Johnson was getting wherever he wanted to on the floor and creating open shots for everyone. If he can replicate that and State can get more low post touches for Yurtseven, then I don’t think another 44%+ night it out of the question.
  • Turnovers– This is one area where the Pack has made their money all season. Last time these teams met, State turned Carolina over 14 times at their place. UNC will definitely try to keep that number down (and they only turned it over 2 times vs Duke), but with this game being at State and with a team void of lightning quick ball handlers, we could see State forcing somewhere in the 14 range once again.
  • Rebounding– Another place that the Pack has excelled, but one where UNC is simply better. Rebounding. The Heels do an amazing job on the glass thanks to a big but quick lineup across the board. Last time out UNC punished the Pack to the tune of 48-34 on the boards. This is where State needs to improve. We told you that we doubt we’ll see the same kind of 3pt performance we saw out of NC State this time (but hey, we could be wrong), so where will they make those points up? It will have to be on the glass. Yurtseven had 13 (a game-high) and he will probably have another good rebounding day, but Dorn’s 4 needs work. Couple that with the fact that his guy, Pinson, led UNC with 13. They have got to block him out if they want to keep the rebounding numbers closer.

Game Narratives

  • Can Keatts go 2-0 vs UNC and Roy Williams in year one? If so, how does that shift the rivalry or the perception of State in the ACC?
  • Can Keatts complete the regular-season Tobacco Road sweep?
  • Will UNC get revenge after losing to NC State at home?
  • How will the players respond to Joel Berry’s quote that NC State is not their rival?
  • Would a win today finally lock NC State into the NCAA Tournament?


Keys to the Game
We ran these earlier, but we feel they are worth repeating.

  • Capitalize on the timing. UNC is coming off a very emotional, hard-fought, comeback win over Duke. If you watched that game, you saw how Carolina scrapped and clawed on every possession. These types of games drain you both physically and emotionally. On top of that, UNC has a one-day turnaround to prepare for the Pack. Now, this is a rivalry game (no matter what Joel Berry thinks) so the Heels will show up. The question is, how mentally and physically ready will they be and will they be able to sustain that for 40 minutes, on the road, in front of a sell out NC State crowd that will be loud and aggressive.
  • Keep the chip on your shoulder. Joel Berry said he didn’t consider NC State a rival. Don’t think for one second that isn’t being used as a driving motivator for this game, especially with Keatts. He’s a competitor and he’s not here to barely raise the status-quo. He’s here to blow up the entire power structure. Step one to doing that would be a clean sweep of Tobacco Road in year one. Going 2-0 against Roy would surely put a crack in the big blue narrative.
  • Stop Joel Berry. Markell Johnson did it in game one and he’ll need to do it again. Berry only had 6 points in the first game on 3-12 shooting. He really didn’t push the issue in that game, but he’ll certainly look to get going early in this one.
  • Don’t lose sight of Kenny Williams. Then junior guard did next to nothing against the Pack in game 1 (4 points), but that 3-game losing streak the Heels went on must’ve made Roy issue him a challenge. Over the past two (both wins) Williams has been very aggressive and very effective. He’s gone 13-24 from the field and 9-17 from 3 and totaled 35 points in those game. Beverly will likely get this matchup, but man, he’s been getting killed on the dribble drive lately. Teams are specifically attacking him. Keatts needs to find a way around this. You need him on the floor for offense, but at some point you wonder if he’s going to be forced to play Batts and take the shooting hit.
  • Find the right matchups. This is tough. NC State played great on offense, but it really hid the deficiencies they showed on D vs. UNC. Maybe the Virginia Tech loss will finally prove to them that they need to figure out their defense and do so fast if they want to contend for anything. How will they match up with UNC’s frontcourt is the big question. Pinson abused them with dribble penetration in game one and Luke Maye as out there looking unstoppable That can’t happen this time if State wants to pull this off.
  • Play together. Let Markell lead. UNC couldn’t’ stop Markell Johnson down the stretch. He finished with 20pts and 11 assists. The Heels just don’t have a guard who can stay in front of him. Yurt’s ability to pick and pop makes him that much more dangerous. They need to let him probe and drive on the UNC defense and find open guys. That’s how they beat UNC the first time and that’s how they can do it again. A 7-7 night from Al Freeman would be fine, but if he’s off, State can’t allow him to take him down that 1 on 1 hole he likes to explore for 5 minutes every game.
  • Feed Yurtseven– The Virginia Tech game may have gone differently had they been able to keep Omer on the floor. He’s the key to this team’s balance. He already had a big game against UNC this year (16pts) and Duke’s big just smoked Carolina’s front line last night. Yurt could be in store for a big game if he stays out of foul trouble vs UNC.



NC State Basketball

VIDEO: Kevin Keatts’ Press Conference After NC State’s 94-78 loss to Duke (Bulleted)



NC State head coach Kevin Keatts talked with the media after the Wolfpack’s 94-78 loss to Duke in Cameron Indoor last night in his postgame press conference. The video is ABOVE (via TheWolfpacker), and a bulleted breakdown is BELOW.

  • We competed. We had some chances. We answered some runs. I told the guys in the locker room, I thought we competed and I thought we lost some of the toughness plays.
  • Give Duke credit. They’re a great team.
    • He (Coach K) has done a tremendous job.
    • Great recruiting class that actually lived up to the hype and they do a great job.
  • Zion (Williamson) is as good advertised. We didn’t have an answer for him.
    • I thought he was obviously the best player on the floor, and RJ Barrett is very good.
  • I’m proud of the way my guys competed, but we have got to get a little tougher because we are not the biggest team.
    • Obviously, I thought we got beat up on the glass and in the paint.
  • I thought Markell Johnson was good.
    • I thought he was a leader on the floor.
    • He made plays when we needed to have them.
    • His conditioning is still not all there, but when you look at his numbers, he was effective. He did a tremendous job of finding guys (10 assists & 3 turnovers).
    • He’s starting to get back. The longer it goes on, he’s getting his conditioning back.
  • I thought every guy we had on the floor competed.
  • We did some really good things, but we lost to a better team on their home floor who was a little tougher than us today.
  • Not surprised (on rebounding difference).
    • We have done a better job most games getting offensive rebounds. We didn’t have that tonight. We didn’t get the offensive rebounds. We typically get about 12 offensive rebounds a game and we didn’t get those.
    • On the other end, we gave up 14, which is certainly not a good enough to win. I think they had 17 second-chance points. They hurt us. They beat us in the paint.
  • I thought we finished the half the right way.
  • We came out (2nd half) and cut it to eight and then in the 2nd half we came out and they executed, got a couple big baskets, then we played from behind the rest of the half.
    • We cut it to single digits three or four times. Then we would give up an offensive rebound, miss a free throw, block-out, those type of things. Those are things you have to do if you are going to have the opportunity to be a good team on the road.
  • Any time a team goes up on you that much it’s a big moment in the game. Certainly, we have the type of team where we can answer runs.
  • I thought we did some really, really good things.
  • When you look at it, on the road, they made 21 free throws on the road, we made six. They got 14 offensive rebounds, we got five. Those type of things are not a great formula to help you win.
  • I don’t think it bothered them at all (roster distractions). We were focused, we came in with a really good gameplan.
  • We played the best in this league. We played toe-to-toe with everybody in this league.
  • When you’re playing on the road in a hostile environment, you got to cut down your mistakes and be able to rebound the basketball.
  • I like my team. We have fought and competed with everybody in this league now and hopefully we will clean up some of the things we need to if we face a team like Duke again.

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NC State Basketball

Duke 94 NC State 78: ACCDN Highlight Reel & Condensed Game



NC State fell to Duke 94-78 in Cameron Indoor Stadium last night, falling to 18-8 overall, and 6-7. Check out the ACC Digital Network’s Highlight Reel and Condensed Game below.

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NC State Basketball

Duke too big for NC State, Winning 94-78 in Cameron Indoor



Last night, NC State fell to #2 Duke 94-78 in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The result was not what they wanted, but the Wolfpack players shouldn’t hang their heads.

NC State went into a hostile environment and shot 50% from the field. That’s not easy to do with the Cameron Crazies in your grill.

Senior Torin Dorn might have played his best (and most confident) game in ACC play this season, leading the Pack with 17 points, on 8 of 13 shooting.

Junior Markell Johnson found the balance Coach Keatts wants him to have last night. He dished the ball like he did last season, but scored the ball like this team needs him to. Johnson finished with a double-double of 16 points and 10 assists, marking the 1st time all-season he’s recorded double-digit assists.

Redshirt Junior CJ Bryce wasn’t intimidated by Duke, scoring 13 points (5-10 FG/2-2 3PT), and grabbing 5 rebounds (team lead).

Despite all of that, defensively, NC State had no answers for the Freshman dynamic duo of Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett.

Williamson finished with 32 points (12-16 FG), and Barrett dropped the 4th triple-double in Duke history, with 23 points, 11 rebounds and 10 rebounds.

The Wolfpack shot well, but their opponent shot better, with the Blue Devils shooting 53% from the field.

Ultimately this game came down to two things: the free throw line and the offensive glass.

Duke made 15 more free throws (NC State – 6-11/Duke – 21-28) and had 9 more offensive rebounds (14-5). The Blue Devils scored 17 points off of those 9 offensive boards (The Wolfpack scored 2 points off of their 5 offensive boards.).

Balance out either one of those, and it’s a completely different ball game.

Also, the Wolfpack were only able to turn 12 turnovers into 2 points. The Blue Devils turned 12 points into 22 points.

NC State was outsized, especially with their only 2 ‘bigs’ getting in foul trouble. Keatts didn’t use Duke’s size as an excuse after the game, but as a learning point for his team to be tougher. The Wolfpack will run into bigger teams, and they will have to learn to be tougher than their bigger opponent.

Boxing out is fundamental basketball, but it is vital for a smaller team, giving them the ability to grab rebounds against bigger opponents, or forcing them to commit over-the-back fouls.

NC State will be favored in 4 of their last 5 games of ACC play, with an opportunity to head into the ACC Tournament with wind behind their sails.

The Wolfpack will host Boston College on Wednesday night at 7pm.


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NC State Basketball

NC State is a 16.5-Point Underdog at Duke Tonight



NC State enters tonight’s game at #2 Duke as 16.5-point underdogs. The Total is 159.5.

  • The total has gone UNDER in 4 of North Carolina State’s last 6 games
  • North Carolina State is 6-3 Against The Spread in its last 9 games on the road
  • The total has gone OVER in 10 of North Carolina State’s last 13 games on the road
  • North Carolina State is 4-1 Against The Spread in its last 5 games when playing Duke
  • North Carolina State is 6-17 Straight Up in its last 23 games when playing Duke
  • The total has gone OVER in 5 of North Carolina State’s last 5 games when playing Duke
  • North Carolina State is 4-1 Against The Spread in its last 5 games when playing on the road against Duke
  • North Carolina State is 2-23 Straight Up in its last 25 games when playing on the road against Duke
  • The total has gone OVER in 6 of North Carolina State’s last 8 games when playing on the road against Duke (OddShark)

Being an underdog isn’t something the Wolfpack aren’t used to in this series. Duke has been the favorite in the last 41 straight contests against NC State (1/7/98), and the streak probably goes back further than that. That’s simply as far back as the research on TeamRankings goes.

With that being said, the Wolfpack is on a 2-game winning streak against the Blue Devils.

Ironically, the last time NC State took the court in Cameron Indoor, they were 16.5-point underdogs as well, but managed to defeat the 17th ranked home team 84-82.

The Wolfpack are 6-4 against the spread in their last 10 games against Duke, and the TOTAL has gone OVER in 8 of the 10.

NC State is 15-10 against the spread this year, and Duke is 15-9. The Wolfpack are 6-3 against the spread on the road, and the Blue Devils are 9-6 against the spread at home.

NC State 2018-19

Duke 2018-19

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