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#15 NC State Falls 90-82 to #12 UNC at Home

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#15 NC State didn’t lead for a single second against #12 UNC tonight, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a game.

The Tar Heels outshot the Wolfpack from the field (45.3% to 42.5%), beyond the arch (40.0% to 28.6%), and at the charity stripe (84.6% to 70.6%). They out-rebounded the Pack by 18 (51-33), with a +4 advantage on the offensive glass. UNC had 26 free throw attempts, compared to NC State’s 17.

Torin Dorn, Markell Johnson and CJ Bryce were an uncharacteristic 13-34 from the field. Johnson got in foul trouble once again in the first half, and went into halftime scoreless. He finished the game with 5 turnovers.

Too many gimme’s were missed around the rim. The Pack forced three-pointers that were ill-timed. Costly turnovers killed runs. The Wolfpack half court offense often looked like one man hell-bent on scoring, instead of moving the ball around.

The Wolfpack were able to tie the game twice in the second half, but the most detrimental stretch of the game came with 10 minutes left in the contest. After cutting the lead to one, NC State turned the ball over in 5 out of the next 7 possessions.

Despite all of this, with a minute left in the game, the Wolfpack was only down 5 points.

Braxton Beverly did his part, scoring a career high 21 points, hitting 5 of his 8 three point attempts. DJ Funderburk was spectacular, finishing with 15 points (6-7 FG), 5 rebounds and 2 blocks.

NC State turned over UNC 23 times.

Before the Wolfpack knew it, they were down 16-4 to start the game. After the first 10 minutes of play, UNC was up 29-15. In the final 30 minutes of play, the Wolfpack beat the Tar Heels 67-61.

Can I be that guy and gripe about one foul call? Ok, I will. The foul called against Torin Dorn on Coby White with 1:06 was obscene. At that time NC State was only down 5 points, and had Dorn not been called for a foul for making 0 physical contact with the driving White, the Wolfpack could have possibly run down the court and made it a one possession game with plenty of time on the clock. Rant over.

Plain and simple…NC State played poorly tonight, and UNC deserves credit for some of that, but it’s encouraging the Wolfpack was in the game until the very end.

NC State will host Pitt on Saturday at Noon in PNC Arena on Raycom Sports.

 

 

 

 

NC State Basketball

Preview: NC State faces UNC in another must win (9pm, ESPN)

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NC State Wolfpack @ North Carolina Tarheels
Time: 
9pm 
Location: 
Chapel Hill, NC
TV: 
ESPN
Line: UNC -3

What timeline are we living in? NC State sits at 8-8, tied for 5th in the ACC. Meanwhile, UNC is 3-13, last place in the conference. They have lost 7 in a row, one of which was a 17 point loss to the 4-12 Demon Deacons.

Yet, UNC is still the favorite in tonight’s matchup against the Wolfpack and not many people are that surprised.

What to expect from NC State
Not only is this your rivalry game, but it’s a revenge game. UNC’s last win was a 75-65 win over the Pack in late January.  Added on top is the fact that NC State is sitting squarely on the NCAA bubble. A loss to the Heels and they are likely NIT bound. Win, and the dream to dance is still alive.

The Pack needs to do three things.

1) Make sure Markell and Bryce are locked in.
When the senior PG is right, NC State can be dominant. You saw it against Duke, but you’ll need to see it in a game that NC State isn’t the underdog. His 6-19 (and 0-5 from 3) performance last time against Carolina was awful. He wasn’t attacking, he was hesitant and he turned it over 4 times. CJ Bryce was also in the midst of his strange stretch where he couldn’t score and he looked completely lost. He was 0-8 with zero points in that game.

Tonight they need Bryce and Johnson to be clicking on all cylinders.

2) Defend the middle. 
Bates was just back from a concussion the last time these teams met and it showed. Funderburk played well, but Garrison brooks finished with 25 points and 11 boards. Brooks is a good big, but he’s not good enough to take over a game against a healthy Wolfpack frontcourt. They need to make sure they don’t let that happen again.

3) Stop Cole Anthony
Anthony has been good for Carolina since his return but you can expect him to be great tonight unless the Pack can lock down on him. He’s going to look to take over this basketball game, and State can not let that happen. He is averaging almost 20 ppg since his return, however, Carolina hasn’t gotten a win in that span. Anthony is going to be hungry to not only prove he can help this team win but to do it in a setting where he would be knocking his rivals out of NCAA contention.

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ESPN: NC State a projected 12 seed in latest Bracketology

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Looks like beating the #6 team in the nation by 22 points does hold a little weight, at least with Joe Lunardi and the Brackeology crew.

NC State was left out of last week’s edition, but now (even after a loss to FSU on Saturday) finds themselves squarely on the bubble, just squeaking in with a 12-seed play-in game against Oklahoma.

So how does this play out? Here is our prediction.

NC State goes to UNC, plays Pitt at home, plays at Duke and then finishes at home against Wake. If they win 3 of those 4 games, they are in. If they lose 2 of those 4 they are likely out.

With UNC in last place, Wake only a game better and Pitt only a spot higher in the rankings than Wake, NC State is about to face three very winnable teams. They have got to win those. However, if they end up beating Duke (at Duke) and drop one of the other 3, we believe it still will be enough to get them in. But if they lose to Duke, without a doubt they have to win the other 3. At that point we think they’ll be one of the last 4 teams in, but they’d also have a chance to build on their resume with a nice run in the ACC Tournament.

The good news is, the season is still alive, and as usual, with the season winding down, we’re going to have a lot of exciting basketball to watch.

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FULL HIGHLIGHTS: NC State falls to #8 FSU 67-61

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NC State fell to #8 FSU 67-61 in a hard-fought battle.

Devon Daniels led the Pack with 18 points and 9 boards while Jericole Hellems added 14 points and 7 boards. State only got 26 minutes out of their most productive big, DJ Funderburk, due to some questionable foul calls. He finished with just 9 points and 4 boards.

FSU’s length really bothered Markell Johnson and CJ Bryce who combined for just 13 points. Johnson added 5 assists and Bryce had 4 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough from the two seniors.

The Noles really hammered the Pack on the offensive glass, coming up with 15 offensive rebounds to NC State’s 11.

NC State now sits squarely on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament with must-wins games against  UNC and Pitt looming. Then it’s a rematch with the Blue Devils at their place before the season finale at home vs. Wake.

If the Pack can win 3 of those 4 games, they will likely have played themselves into being one of the last teams in selected for the tournament. However, drop drop two of them and they may be on the outside looking in.

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OUR TAKE: NC State’s season still alive after 88-66 upset over #6 Duke

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A few days later and this game is still fresh in the mind of Pack fans.

This game really was a must-win for NC State and it showed. It’s been a roller coaster ride of a season that honestly had started to get a bit perplexing.The roster is just too good to be sitting in the middle of the pack of an ACC that isn’t at full strength. With a senior point guard (Johnson), a senior forward (Bryce) and an emerging star in the font court (Funderburk), you’d think NC State would be a lock for the NCAA Tournament. However, in true NC State fashion here we are in February facing an uphill climb to make the dance.

After the Boston College game, most NC State fans were down. It seemed as though with the Pack falling towards the middle of the standings and #6 Duke coming in, followed by #8 FSU, the odds of a late-season run were diminishing. However, if you’ve followed NC State long enough, you knew something that no data or no basketball analyst could predict. You knew NC State was going to win this game. You knew that it’s only when all hope is seemingly lost, does NC State rise from the ashes and do the unthinkable.

The Wolfpack came out against Duke as confident as we’ve seen all year. There was zero fear. They played as if their season depended on this game,..and it really did. They were physical, they were hungry, and they looked like the top-10 team, not the #6 ranked Blue Devils. So what happened? What was the difference? Who was this team?

Markell Johnson decided to dominate
The keyword there is ‘decided.’ There was no luck involved in Markell’s 28 point, 9 rebound, 4 assist effort. That was Markell simply being locked in, playing without fear and dominating a basketball game. I won’t lie and say I know what’s been going on in Johnson’s head this season. He has had moments, but hasn’t really captured that form he showed at the end of games last season. Against Duke, he finally did and he sustained it for an entire game. Whatever Keatts told him, whatever pre-game ritual he did or motivation he used to get up for this game, I hope it’s repeatable. With Markell playing at that level, NC State is not only a tournament team, but they are a tough out for ANY (yes, ANY) team in the nation.

Funderburk’s versatility is a problem
Funderburk’s 21 points was a season-high in conference play. His 15 shots was also a season-high. See the correlation? DJ Funderburk is one of NC State’s best players and he needs to get shots if they are going to win. He was matched up against one of the best frontcourts in the country and he did work. He had 9 rebounds, 4 of which were offensive and also pitched in 3 steals and a 3 pointer. This guy is a stud and the faster his teammates realize he needs his touches, the faster the Wolfpack will be able to reach their full offensive potential.

Devon Daniels set the tone.
Say what you want about Daniels, the guy has been the most consistent energy guy on this team for the past month. Yes he takes some crazy floaters, and sometimes forces shots you’d rather see go to Markell or DJ, but maybe just maybe he’s starting to come into his own. Daniels was a good scorer coming out of high school and showed a lot of flashes at Utah as a freshman. But since coming to NC State he has struggled to find his role. That’s no longer the case. He came out of the gate hot against Duke and put pressure on them from the get-go. It helped that his floaters and running layups were falling, but you can credit that to his focus. He too was locked in for this game. He finished with 25 points and 9 rebounds and it seemed like Duke wanted no part in getting in front of him. Daniels is strong, physical and cocky on the court. While it may have taken him some time to learn to play within this system, he might actually be the one starting to give this Wolfpack team an identity.

Less 3s, more attacking
In Keatts presser, he said he challenged his team to attack more and settle for 3s less. The outcome was State only taking 13 3s and hitting 8 of them. That is who this team needs to be. Markell, Bryce, Daniels, Hellems, and Funderburk are all good shooters, but none are great 3 point shooters. Beverly could be a great shooter, but he’s struggled the past 2 seasons to find his stroke. With this being the case, you need your team to make their money attacking the basket. This team has floated around and settled for a lot of lazy 3s. Keatts may finally be putting his foot down and making them play to their strength. It worked well against Duke, let’s see if they can keep focused and apply that type of attack vs FSU.

A huge win
This win wasn’t just big, it was huge. NC State needed this for so many reasons. Had they lost, the season was probably over (in terms of NCAA chances). They would limp into a game against FSU with no clear path to the tournament other than a big ACC Tourny run. Instead, they have knocked off the #6 team in the nation by 22 points. I outright slaughtering. Now, with confidence riding high, they welcome #8 FSU to Raleigh on Saturday. Back to back wins over Top-10 teams would put NC State in a position to get into the NCAA Tournament without being on the bubble.

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