It many ways, today’s game was deja vu.
Just like Tuesday’s 90-82 loss to the #12 Tar Heels, Pittsburgh shot better than #15 NC State from the field (45.5% to 42.3%), beyond the arch (46.2% to 35%), and the charity stripe (85.7% to 76%).
The Wolfpack were able to win a ‘ugly’ game this time around, defeating the Panthers 86-80.
What makes this even more impressive, is they did it without two of their starters for most of the game.
2-minutes into the contest, Redshirt Graduate Junior big fella Wyatt Walker forgot he was playing basketball for a second, and put some wrestling moves on tape for NC State wrestling coach Pat Popolizio.
— Tim Dennis (@TDennisSportTog) January 12, 2019
The result: Walker was given a Flagrant 1, and was ejected from the game.
Roughly 8 minutes later, Junior Point Guard Markell Johnson took to the air to block a shot, and came down scarily hard on his back.
— Jonas Pope IV (@JEPopeIV) January 12, 2019
Though Johnson eventually returned to the bench in the 2nd half, he didn’t see the court again, but reassured that he would be fine and ready to play Wake Forest on Tuesday night.
Despite losing two starters within the first 10 minutes of action, the Wolfpack led by as much as 9-points in the first half, went into halftime with a 1-point 41-40 lead.
Redshirt Sophomore Devon Daniels was the hero of the 1st half, scoring 15 points. He finished the game with 19 points (9-14 FG).
The Wolfpack couldn’t have started the 2nd half any colder. I’m talking sub zero cold.
With 7:43 left in the game, NC State was shooting a frigid 16.7% (4-24) in the 2nd half.
With 9:53 left in the game, the Wolfpack was trailing by 5-points (58-53), were without 2 starters, and couldn’t buy a bucket.
The often forgotten man, (literally…Keatts forgot to play him against UNC) Redshirt Graduate Senior Eric Lockett put the team on his back.
Lockett finished with a season-high 17 points and 7 rebounds. Twelve of his 17 points came in the second half, after entering the game with 12 minutes left in the game. He was efficient, shooting 6 of 9 from the field, and 3 of 4 from deep.
The other hero of the 2nd half was Redshirt Sophomore DJ Funderburk. With Walker out, Funderburk couldn’t afford to get in foul trouble, as he often does. For the most part, Funderburk stayed out of foul trouble, and played a career high 34 minutes (12 minutes more than his previous high). Funderburk continued to prove that he is productive whenever he’s on the court, finishing the game with 18 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks. In my opinion, the most impressive aspect of his stat line was making 8 of his 10 free throw attempts.
The Wolfpack took the lead with 5 minutes left, and never looked back.
Senior Torin Dorn posted his second consecutive double-double, recording 12 points and 10 rebounds, and chipped in a team-high 5 assists as well.
NC State got back to their rebounding ways, out-rebounding Pitt 44-34, with an insane 21 of them coming on the offensive glass.
The Wolfpack have now won 7-straight against the Panthers, and are 2-1 in ACC play for the first time since the 2014-15 season.
NC State will hit the road and play Wake Forest next on Tuesday night at 8pm.