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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.

NC State Basketball

Devon Daniels Junior Season ACCDN Highlight Reel

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Redshirt Junior Devon Daniels improved in nearly every statistical category this year. He averaged 12.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals, shooting 47% from the field. Below is the ACC Digital Network’s Highlight Reel of Daniels’ Junior Season.

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Rodney Monroe Takes Down Donovan Mitchell to Advance to the Sweet 16

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The ACC is doing their own version of March Madness to determine the best Men’s Basketball player of the past 50 years.

Out of the 64 players chosen, 4 NC State players were selected: David Thompson, Rodney Monroe, Julius Hodge and T.J Warren.

Each match is decided by fan vote.

Voting for the Round of 32 has now closed, and all 4 of the former Wolfpack stars have officially advanced to the Sweet 16.
Yesterday #5 seed Rodney Monroe took down #13 seed Donovan Mitchell (Louisville).
Here are the matchups for the NC State Legends in the Sweet 16.
#7 Julius Hodge vs. #3 Darrell Griffith (Louisville)
#8 T.J. Warren vs. #5 seed Jared Dudley (Boston College)
#1 David Thompson vs. #4 James Worthy (UNC)
#5 Rodney Monroe vs. #1 Christian Laettner (Duke))
Go vote for Hodge right NOW!

 

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D.J. Funderburk & Devon Daniels to Go Through NBA Draft Process

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NC State Head Men’s Basketball Coach Kevin Keatts hopped on a zoom call today with the media, and shared that Redshirt Juniors D.J. Funderburk and Devon Daniels will go through the NBA Draft process.

Obviously, both Daniels and Funderburk will have the ability to return to school. Over the past couple of years, Torin Dorn and Markell Johnson both did the same thing. Players go through the process in order to be seen by NBA scouts, and get feedback from them of what they need to work on to improve their draft stock.

While Funderburk and Daniels both improved this year, I can’t imagine a scenario where either one of them would be drafted this year by an NBA team.

With that being said, both of these guys have been in school 4 years now, and 1 or 2 of them could look to play pro ball now, even if it wasn’t in the NBA.

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David Thompson Takes Down Pervis Ellison to Advance to Sweet 16

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The ACC is doing their own version of March Madness to determine the best Men’s Basketball player of the past 50 years.

Out of the 64 players chosen, 4 NC State players were selected: David Thompson, Rodney Monroe, Julius Hodge and T.J Warren.

Thus far three of them advanced to the Sweet 16.

On Monday, #7 seed Julius Hodge beat #2 seed J.J. Redick (Duke), on Tuesday, #8 seed T.J. Warren beat #1 seed Ralph Sampson (UVA), and yesterday #1 seed David Thompson beat #9 seed Pervis Ellison (Louisville).

In the Sweet 16, The Juice will face #3 seed Darrell Griffith (Louisville), Tony Buckets will be matched up against #5 seed Jared Dudley (Boston College), and Skywalker will go head-to-head with #4 seed James Worthy (UNC).

You can vote right now to send #5 seed Rodney Monroe to the Sweet 16 as well, with Ice battling #13 seed Donovan Mitchell (Louisville).

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