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PLAYER PREVIEW: Transfer Devon Daniels says his “offensive game has elevated a lot since Utah.”

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Over the course of our Basketball Player Previews, we’ve wrapped a player intro story around the interviews we did during media day. However, since we’ve already done an in-depth piece on Devon Daniels, and since these quotes are pretty good all by themselves, we’re just going to drop them right here for you.

On transitioning to Keatts system…
“That was perfect for me. At Utah I wasn’t really there to score. I was there to play hard, dive on the floor, get rebounds, play hard defense…and then I got to score. When he asks that of me, it’s perfect. I really like to win and compete.”

On his battles last year during practice with Al Freeman…
“Me and Al Freeman, we were perfect to go against each other because we are so competitive. I think it helped them a lot and it helped us grow. It was good.”

On where he fits with this team…
“Anything he asks me to do, I’m willing to do it. I trust him and I know he wants the best out of all of us. If he wants to put me anywhere on the court I’m ready, I’m willing.”

On the type of player he is…
“Shoot, I’m just a guard that likes to win. I’ll play defense, I’ll score. I think my offensive game has elevated a lot since I was at Utah.”

On what type of shape he’s in…
“Physically I’ve always been in pretty good shape. I’ve added about 5 pounds, my body fat is real, real low, at 1.9 or something like that. I’m really ready.”

On what he did when the team was on road trips last season…
“Made sure to stay in the gym. Just because they were gone it doesn’t mean we get a break. We just made an effort to get in the gym together.”

On what his sit-out transfer year was to him…
“It was more a learning opportunity. I got to see what made them go and at times what made them struggle. I took it as, like, film watching.”

NC State Basketball

PRESS CONFERENCE: Kevin Keatts talks after win over Duke

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Kevin Keatts talks about his team’s win over #6 ranked Duke. He applauded the energy of his entire team, but specifically the play of Devon Daniels, Markell Johnson, and DJ Funderburk. See the full comments above.

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Game Preview: NC State faces a must win vs. #6 Duke

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NC State Wolfpack Vs. #6 Duke Blue Devils
Time:
9pm (2/19)
Location: 
Raleigh, NC
TV: 
ESPN
Line: Duke -5.5

If NC State wants to play in the NCAA Tournament their ticket will be either punched or ruined in the next four days. With #6 Duke and #8 FSU coming to Raleigh, After devastating losses to Georgia Tech (twice), UNC and now Boston College, the Wolfpack has their share of bad losses. Now they need to start stacking up some good wins. That starts tonight vs. Duke.

Duke has won 7 in a row. NC State has lost 4 of their last 6. Momentum is with Duke, but NC State is playing for their life. Will that make a difference?

What you’ll need to see for NC State to win

– NC State will need to shoot the ball well. The Pack shot an embarrassing 10% from 3pt range against Boston College. If they want to beat Duke they’ll need to sit at over 40%.

– They will have to play GREAT interior defense and out-rebound Duke. Manny Bates and Funderburk have been bright spots, but against Duke these guys will need to bring their A games. Vernon Carey Jr is a monster inside. Stopping him could throw Duke off kilter. However, many teams have tried and few have succeeded.

– They need Markell to hit shots. In a perfect world, Markell Johnson would be slicing and dicing up defenses, getting in the lane and creating havoc for opposing defenses. He’d be picking his spots to score, knocking down 3’s and making the defense pick their poison. Instead, Markell has looked a bit lost. At times he’s been timid. Scared to shoot. Scared to turn the ball over. Unsure of when to turn on ‘score mode.’ What NC State is a confident, assured Markell. One that understands that this team is going to live by him and die by him. No use in playing it safe. Without a dominant Markell Johnson, NC State isn’t going anywhere.

And really, is it even fair to ask more or Markell? If NC State is going to make noise in the NCAA the answer has to be yes, but his shooting sruggles have dampened what actually has been a pretty good season for him. His shooting percentages are down across the board, but he is averaging a career-high (tied) 12.6 ppg, career-high 6.5 assists per game, a career-high 4.5 rebounds, and a career-high 1.9 steals per game. Aside from shooting, this is the senior’s best season of his career offensively. Fix the shooting and you fix NC State? Possibly yes.

By the numbers…

PPG
Duke; 83
NC State: 74.3

FG %
Duke; 48.4
NC State: 44.7

3-pt%
Duke; 35.5
NC State: 31.7

Rebounds
Duke; 39.8
NC State: 35.8

Assists:
Duke; 16.3
NC State: 13.4

Turnovers
Duke: 13.5
NC State: 12

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FULL HIGHLIGHTS: NC State takes down Syracuse 79-74

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NC State moved to 16-8 and 7-6 in the conference (5th place) with last night’s road win over Syracuse. Check out the full condensed game here, thanks to ACCDN.


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IN-DEPTH PREVIEW: NC State needs a win at Syracuse tonight (7pm, ESPN2)

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NC State Wolfpack @ Syracuse Orange
Time: 7
pm (2/11)
Location:
Syracuse, NY
TV: 
ESPN2
Line: Syracuse -5.5

What to expect from Syracuse
In some ways, The Orange is a pretty predictable team, but in some ways, they have been a little streaky. Let me explain.

You know what Syracuse is going to do defensively. They are going to roll out a long lineup and play that extended 2-3 zone that has been the trademark of Jim Boeheim. Their starting lineup is all over 6’5 except freshman point guard Joseph Girard. As usual, they’re pretty long, but they’re really not as athletic as they have been in the past. With Girard, Buddy Boeheim and Marek Dolezaj in the lineup, they really will count on knocking down shots and winning the battle of the boards. That is, aside from counting on a big night form their super star Elijah Hughes. Hughes is a 6’6 junior forward who really does it all for the Orange. He’s averaging 19.4 points per game, 5.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists and shooting a very solid 42.4% from the floor. From beyond the arc, he’s just above average, knocking down 35.7%.

What to expect from NC State
The Pack is actually pretty bad against the zone, but the Syracuse zone might not bother them quite as much. The Pack is certainly more athletic than the Orange and I’d argue a lot more physical, but I think the question will be how far Syracuse extends their zone. They’d be making a big mistake to stretch it out like they normally like to do. They’ve always been ok letting that long 2 be a shot opponents can live and die on. However, that might not work against the Pack. CJ Bryce is one of the best in the conference at knocking down that free-throw line jumper and will most definitely be flashing to that spot all night long.

Matchup wise, I think NC State actually matches up real well against Syracuse. Funderburk and Bates are able to match up with Sidibe (6’10 Jr) and Dolezaj (6’10 Jr). Markell has the upper hand against freshman Joseph Girard. Daniels should be able to slow down 6’6 Buddy Boeheim and that leaves Bryce (6’5) matched up against the 6’6 Hughes.

I like all of those matchups for NC State, even Bryce vs Hughes. Hughes is a great scorer, but he’s a little soft and doesn’t like contact. He is a very good shooter, especially inside the arc, but he will be frustrated by long and physical defender like Bryce.

Recent Trends
Syracuse is not playing its best basketball as of late. After a 5 game winning streak (where they upset Virginia and then won 4 games they should have won) they went on to lose two in a row. First, a close one at Notre Dame and then they’re were blown out against Duke at home. While they did defeat last place Wake Forest last time out, it was a tight game that they only won by two.

Meanwhile, NC State won 3, then lost 3 and then most recently went down to Miami and won by 11. If you’re looking at who is trending, I’d probably give the nod to NC State. While their only sign of late-life has been a road win over a lowly Miami team, they do seem to be getting healthy and having all of their pieces back playing at a high level. Bryce had a good 2nd half against Louisville and a very good game at Miami, while Manny Bates finally got back in the mix and was a major factor on both ends of the floor against Miami.

By the numbers…

PPG
Syracuse; 74
NC State: 74.3

FG %
Syracuse; 43.8
NC State: 44.5

3-pt%
Syracuse; 34.7
NC State: 31.9

Rebounds
Syracuse; 35.8
NC State: 36

Assists:
Syracuse; 14.9
NC State: 13.3

Turnovers
Syracuse: 11.3
NC State: 11.5

 

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