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NC State gets sloppy, runs out of gas in loss to St. Louis 80-69 (w/ highlights and presser)

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First off, if you came here looking for excuses, there are a lot to choose from.

  • 1) The team hasn’t played a game in a couple of weeks.
  • 2) They team was without arguably two of their most important players.
  • 3) They only had 9 guys. Creating problems for stamina and foul trouble.

Those are all true and they are all valid and you are going to get those takes at pretty much every other outlet. So if you want to flush this one and move on, then you can stop reading now. However, if you are interested in taking a closer look at what went wrong outside of the uncontrollable circumstances, then we’ll be dissecting that a little bit in this article.

Here are our notes….

Manny Bates played one of his best games ever in the red and white. The sophomore big man gave Pack fans a good look at the progress he’s made during this offseason. Without Funderburk, all eyes were on Bates and he didn’t disappoint. In fact, he almost registered a triple-double in this game. He finished with 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 blocks. He played a career-high 37 minutes and was an absolute game-changer for the Wolfpack. He’s only in the first quarter of his sophomore season, but Bates looks like he’s going to be one of the best bigs in the ACC for the next couple of years.

The NC State defense was amazing early on. St. Louis was turning the ball over, taking poor shots, and honestly looked completely lost in the first half. The NC State pressure with Manny Bates patrolling the middle was limiting everything the Billikens wanted to do. Then the gas tank ran empty. With only 9 guys (only 7 of which played more than 1 minute), they just ran out of gas. The pressure eased up, guys were having trouble staying in front of their man and the wheels just fell off midway through the 2nd half.

Devon Daniels went rouge. Look, I know in today’s media you have to state context before criticism, so here you go. Devon Daniels is a huge talent and he’s one of NC State’s most important pieces. He is, at times, an elite scorer and he is going to play professionally somewhere after college. That said, Daniels desire to take over and help his team, sometimes comes at a huge cost. Last night was one of those nights. Daniels rarely even passed the basketball last night. He got into a mode where he made his mind up that he was going to be the go-to scorer in the 2nd half. The only problem was, he wasn’t hitting his shots. The NC State team that early on was playing inside-out through Manny Bates was the one that was going to win this game. They were sharing the basketball, finding the open man, and getting easy buckets. Suddenly something changed and Daniels began dominating the basketball. This type of play by one player then bleeds over to the rest of the team who started doing the same. That’s when the wheels fell off. Spin it however you want to, but Devon Daniels needs to work on his situational awareness if he wants to be the true leader of this basketball team. There will be times where he is the guy and there will be times where he needs to suppress that instinct for the good of the guys around him. Daniels finished with 15 points on 5-16 shooting and was 0-6 from long range.

Braxton Beverly is not as effective in this type of expanded role at PG. Over Braxton’s career, he has always fared best when he didn’t have to play expanded minutes at point guard. Last night, with Cam Hayes out, he had to play expanded minutes at point guard. And look, Beverly played well. He finished with 13 points, shot 50% from the floor, had 3 assists and only 1 turnover. Nice night. But defensively, to be effective for his size, he needs to play at max effort. As you saw at the beginning of the game, he was able to do that and really slow down Yuri Collins. But as the night wore on, Collins started to take advantage of his size. He started to push the issue and make Beverly stop him. He couldn’t do that, which led to rotational help defense, which led to eventual open shots. Added on top of that, Beverly really can’t get into the teeth of the defense with ease, and with NC State’s offense, that is a big problem. Beverly did all he could do last night, but we rarely will see NC State clicking on all cylinders with Beverly forced to play significant minutes at the one.

Shakeel Moore looked good. Moore is just a freshman, so you can’t expect a ton from him at this point. That said, he did a very good job of disrupting SLU’s offense. Moore is a feisty defender who plays extremely physical. He also did a good job of getting into the lane and making things happen. As he matures and gets used to the size these teams have int the middle, he will certainly become a very valuable piece to this basketball team.

– Jericole Hellems was off. Hellems is a streaky player and we hoped he would be laser-focused and on his game, seeing as this was a game in his hometown. Unfortunately, he didn’t have it last night. He did bring in 9 boards, but NC State needed scoring and sometimes Hellems is a great scorer, last night he was 2-9 from the floor and 0-3 from 3. He finished with 6 points.

Like I stated above, there are a lot of excuses, legitimate ones, as to why NC State didn’t win this basketball game. They had the chips against them and they fought as hard as they could. So if your reaction to reading this is that I’m focusing on the negative or being overly critical, that’s fine, but that’s what we do here. We like to examine everything, good and bad, and lay it out for readers to get a better understanding of what went wrong and what went right.

At the end of the day, this is not going to be a bad loss. This was a quality OOC opponent and one that will end the season near the top of their conference. NC State was shorthanded and hadn’t played in weeks. This is NOT a bad loss and there are no signs that anything that went wrong last night will plague this team going forward. So onward we go. Next up is Campbell on Saturday at 4pm. Hopefully we have a full squad for that one.

Here is Kevin Keatts comments from after the game, posted on YouTube by The Woflpacker’s YouTube channel.

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