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PLAYER PREVIEW: PG Blake Harris says he’s prepared, but getting in ‘Keatts-shape” wasn’t easy



Sophomore PG Blake Harris was very nearly a Wolfpacker coming out of high school. The 4-star prospect attended Raleigh’s ‘Word of God Academy’ and was heavily recruited by Kevin Keatts prior to the 2017-18 season.

While Harris was mulling over his decision, NC State landed a commitment Lavar Batts, another in-state PG that Keatts was after. That commitment gave NC State 3 PGs on their roster and pushed Harris to choose Missouri, where he had a more clear path to playing time.

However, after nearly half a season at Missouri, Harris decided he wanted out and announced his transfer.

As soon as the transfer news broke, we immediately reached out and was told that NC State was a definite possibility. If you remember, we ran a piece the next day hinting at this fact.

Harris has all the tools that Kevin Keatts looks for in a guard. He’s tall, he’s fast, he likes to get up and down, and he can defend multiple positions. He’s also a capable shooter, and while he didn’t show his shot much at Missouri, he has great form. On top of that, sitting out half of last season due to transfer rules put him in a position to really work on improving his shot, and his overall game.

“I’ve been in the gym a lot crafting my skills. Just really getting in the gym and trying to be the best player I can be.” Said Harris. “(Sitting out) was difficult because I wanted to play with my teammates. I was playing with them every day in practice and we were getting better but I couldn’t play in the game, so that was hard.”

Harris is a unique case since he transferred midway through his freshman season but is eligible to play immediately. After sitting out the 2nd half of last season, the NCAA granted him a waiver saying due to a family-related issue, his transfer closer to home wouldn’t require the full 1-year of sitting out. This was huge news for the Wolfpack, giving them good backcourt depth right out of the gate.

And while he may not have any ACC experience, it’s not like Harris didn’t get good burn during his time with the Tigers.

“Playing last year at Missouri, for a little bit, definitely helped. I played 14 games, so I know what college basketball is like. So when the season starts, I’ll be prepared.”

That experience will allow him to slot in right away, but with Markell Johnson locked into the starting role and Braxton Beverly already proven in Raleigh, just how much will we get to see Blake Harris?

Probably a good deal. Harris is very talented, has size and will push the returning guards for minutes, and Keatts isn’t rulin gout playing Johnson, Beverly and Harris at the same time. He hinted at that scenerio in his pre-season presser.

We asked Harris what that might look like…

“Just a fast pace. A bunch of guards trying to get at it. We all want to win, so if we’re all together on the court at the same time, it’s probably going to be a problem for the other team.” Harris told PI.

Going small is something Wolfpack fans should get used to. Last season Keatts system gave only a sample of what he plans to bring this season. With a full roster of guys who can play fast, he’s going to take full advantage. That means everyone needs to be in shape and ready to run.

“Being in Keatts-shape is different from being in normal-shape. He works us out a lot and makes us run a lot so it’s a whole different beast.” Harris said about the training he’s been going through.

Harris is one of three transfers who were sitting out last year, and one of 6 total that are eligable to play this season (3 are grad transfers). So, there are going to be a lot of new faces on this year’s Wolfpack team. Some might wonder if that will make it tough to get this group to mesh. Harris doesn’t think so.

“We all transferred in, we were the new kids. I transferred in last, so I was really the new kid, but being together in practice definitely gave us a better chemistry. Now everybody is close and trying to get to one thing.”

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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