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NC State Basketball

PLAYER PREVIEW: Markell Johnson is ‘grown up’ and ready to lead a talented Wolfpack backcourt

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No one ever questioned the talent level of Markell Johnson.

The Cleveland native was a highly recruited 4-star guard out of high school, but with Dennis Smith Jr.’s commitment to NC State, Johnson was forced into a backup role in his first season with the Wolfpack.

Behind Smith, Johnson still averaged over 20 minutes per game. He showcased great hustle and elite-level court vision, and was a breath of fresh air on a team that was often sluggish and at times selfish.

A lot changed last year, and nearly all of it was in favor or Markell. Gottfried was fired, Dennis Smith Jr went pro, Terry Henderson wasn’t awarded his 6th year, and Kevin Keatts was brought in to completely change the program.

This left Johnson in a position where, even as a sophomore, he was the only guard with experience at NC State. This made him a focal point for Kevin Keatts. If Keatts was going to succeed, he’d need Markell Johnson to be one of the best PGs in the ACC. The good news was that his system was almost a perfect fit for Johnson’s skill-set.

After an early legal scare, Markell came back and quickly became a high-impact player for Keatts.

Johnson averaged 9.3 points and 7.3 assists per game. Those numbers put him in some high company amongst Wolfpack point guards. His 7.3 assists actually led the entire ACC and he finished 3rd nationally in assists per game.

So the question everyone is asking is, what will he do for an encore?

We caught up with Markell at media day, but he didn’t want to talk too much about himself. Instead, he wanted to talk about his team and their goals.

“Our expectations are to win every game.” Johnson said.

To win this season NC State is going to have to not only rely on the talented junior, but also the group of guards behind him.

With the loss of Abu, Freeman, and Yurtseven, NC State is going to be forced to rely heavily on those guards

“We’ve got a lot of guards. We’re going to get out and run as much as we can. Get up and down, play defense” Johnson said. “We just have to find out who can play with who. A lot of different lineups because there are a lot of guards on the court this year.”

And if you’re wondering what Markell thinks of having so many guys backing him up this season?

“I love it. I’m a guard. I like playing fast. I’m going to have other guards running with me now. It’ll be fun.”

But it will also be competitive. Something Johnson isn’t shying away from.

“(More guards) means more competition in practice. But we need that. With a long season ahead of us it’s definitely good for us to have the guards we have.”

As for Keatts, just like last year, Johnson is going to be his key to success. However, this year he feels he’s more equipped to take on that role, both mentally and pysically.

“When you see Markell you’ll notice some extra bulk on him.” Keatts said. “He’s grown up a lot. At the beginning of last season, there was a lot he needed to work on. He’s become a better student, he’s popular around campus now and he’s done a great job of talking more with his teammates on the court.”

NC State Basketball

NC State 80 UNCG 77: BOX SCORE

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Markell Johnson’s Half Court Dagger Beats UNCG at the Buzzer, 80-77

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Senior Point Guard Markell Johnson likes half court shots, hitting 2 in the past 3 games.

After sinking one at the buzzer against Wisconsin heading into the half, the Wolfpack took the lead, and would never lose it.

Today, responding to Isaiah Miller’s basket to tie the game at 77, Johnson inbounded the ball with 2.1 seconds left, and heaved the ball from a couple of yards behind the half court line, and the ball touched nothing but net, securing an 80-77 victory for the Wolfpack.

Johnson finished with 19 points and 7 assists, which were both team highs, shooting a clean 8 of 14 from the field. This was another example of “2nd Half Markell”, scoring 14 of his 19 points after the break.

The Wolfpack led every minute of the first half, but they allowed the Spartans to make it a tight game at the break. After leading by 12 points with 6 minutes to go in the half, NC State allowed the home team to make it a 1-point game at the break.

The story was the same in the second half. The Spartans took the lead quickly at the start, leading for the first three minutes (by 5 points at one point), but the Wolfpack quickly grabbed control again, leading by 13 points with 10 minutes left. Unfortunately, they didn’t do what was necessary from keeping the scrappy home team from  creeping back into the game.

NC State didn’t maintain fundamentals, failing to block out UNCG all game long, allowing the Spartans to grab 18  offensive boards, compared to only 2 of their own. UNCG scored 17 second chance points, compared to NC State’s 4.

If it wasn’t for the sharpshooting of the Wolfpack, this could have been a very different game. NC State shot an impressive 57% from the field, 46% from three, and 100% from the charity stripe. UNCG got to the free throw line more, out rebounded the Wolfpack (37/23), and turned the ball over less (12/13).

Redshirt Senior Guard C.J. Bryce quietly did what he’s done all year, scoring 17 points, on 6 of 10 shooting (2-4 3PT).

Graduate Senior Pat Andree had the hot hand at the beginning of each halves, connecting on 5 of his 8 three-point attempts, finishing with a season-high 15 points in his second start of the year.

The Wolfpack improved to 8-2, and will play at #10 undefeated Auburn on Thursday night.

 

 

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#9 NC State Women’s Basketball Beats Elon 62-49

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The 9th ranked NC State Women’s Basketball team improved to 10-0 this afternoon, beating in-state foe Elon (3-5) 62-49 in Reynolds Coliseum.

Outside of Sophomore Center Elissa Cunane and Junior Forward Kayla Jones, the Wolfpack shot terribly. As a team, the Wolfpack shot 36.2% from the field (Elon did as well), and a dismal 19.2% from three, compared to the Phoenix’s 27.8%.

Cunane entered the game ranked 12th in the nation in double-doubles, picking up her 4th consecutive one this afternoon. In a career day, the Sophomore had 28 points (career high) and 16 rebounds. Cunane was 9 of 15 from the field.

Jones had 12 points and 7 rebounds, on 5 of 8 shooting.

Even though Senior Guard Aislinn Konig didn’t shoot well, she did hit three more three-pointers, moving her into a tie for 3rd in school history with Myisha Goodwin-Coleman with 234.

After today’s victory, NC State has now won 35 consecutive non-conference games in Reynolds.

Also, it’s worth noting that today was head coach Wes Moore’s 150th victory at NC State.

The Wolfpack will host Chattanooga on Thursday night at 6:30pm, for their last non-conference game of the regular season.

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NC State Men’s Basketball is a 1.5-Point Favorite Over UNCG

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NC State (7-2) will head to Greensboro today to play UNCG (8-2), and the Wolfpack currently sit as 1.5-point favorites, after opening as 2.5-point favorites. The Total is sitting at 136.

NC State is 5-4 Against the Spread this season, and UNCG is 6-3.

NC State

  • North Carolina State are 4-2 ATS in their last 6 games.
  • The total has gone OVER in 4 of North Carolina State’s last 6 games.
  • North Carolina State are 7-1 SU in their last 8 games.
  • North Carolina State are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games against UNC Greensboro.
  • North Carolina State are 8-1 SU in their last 9 games against UNC Greensboro.
  • North Carolina State are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games on the road.
  • North Carolina State are 4-1 SU in their last 5 games this season.
  • North Carolina State are 13-2 SU in their last 15 games against an opponent in the Southern conference.
  • North Carolina State are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games played in December.

UNCG

  • UNC Greensboro are 6-3 ATS in their last 9 games.
  • The total has gone UNDER in 8 of UNC Greensboro’s last 10 games.
  • UNC Greensboro are 5-0 SU in their last 5 games.
  • UNC Greensboro are 14-2 SU in their last 16 games at home.
  • UNC Greensboro are 7-1 SU in their last 8 games this season.
  • The total has gone OVER in 4 of UNC Greensboro’s last 5 games against an opponent in the Atlantic Coast conference.
  • UNC Greensboro are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games played in December.
  • UNC Greensboro are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games played on a Sunday. (OddShark)

This marks the 9th time these two teams have played one another since 2006, and the Wolfpack have been favored in every single game.

UNCG upset the Wolfpack two years ago in Raleigh in Kevin Keatts first year, beating the home team by 5, despite being 8.5-point underdogs.

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