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OUR TAKE: On NC State’s 77-63 dominant win over Virginia

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Just when the fan base seems to be slipping into apathy, NC State pulls you back in!

In all seriousness though, it was only a matter of time before NC State put together a game like this. They’ve been so close, so often this season, but continuously have come up short. At some point, they are either just going to wither and give up or decide to stop letting games even get close. Looks like they chose the latter against Virginia.

This was an extremely impressive game. I don’t think many will really understand just HOW impressive it was.

NC State shot 60% against Virginia. During Tony Bennett’s tenure (13 years), do you know how many other teams shot 60% or above vs. Virginia?

The answer is one. It was last year, and it was #1 Gonzaga, who shot 60.4%. Do you remember that team? The one that went 31-1. The one that people debated about being the best college team of all time? Yeah, it was them.

The Keatts-deniers are going to say this win was luck. Just some hot shooting. I’m going to tell you that you’re wrong. Sure, this team was hot, but that’s not why NC State was so dominant in this game. They were dominant because they played completely focused and completely fearless on both ends of the floor. They met Virginia’s physicality with physicality of their own. They disrupted Virginia’s offense by communicating on defense and using their length to challenge almost every shot.

Here are the other keys that we saw in the NC State’s win…

A change in minute distribution by Keatts

Keatts finally decided to trim his rotation down and we think this was a big key. Seabron, Smith, Hellems, Morsell, and Dowuona played 82% of the minutes. This is NC State’s best 5 and it was good to finally see him really push them to play most of the minutes. Thomas Allen played just 5 minutes and Cam Hayes tied a season-low with 8 minutes. Both guys will still get their moments, but as of now, Keatts is leaning heavily on the guys who are giving him the most efficient minutes on both ends of the floor. For a team that has been losing games by just a couple of possession, every substitution matters, and Keatts seems to be accepting that.

Morsell back to logging major minutes

Honestly, the biggest change was Morsell getting the start and getting back to the type of minutes he was getting early in the season, prior to injury. He’s looked ready for a couple of games now, but this was the first one where Keatts fully committed to him starting and playing a majority of the game.

Morsell rewarded him with 12 points, 2 steals and tied a season-high with 7 rebounds. He shot 5-7 from the floor and 2-3 from 3. Morsell is now shooting 38.9% from 3. That’s second-best on the team behind Jericole Hellems elite 41.5%. On top of that Morsell is providing elite-level defense, he’s a strong attacker off the bounce, and he’s good in transition. Morsell is an absolute key to NC State’s success, and while Hellems and Smith will get a lot of the hype here, Morsell playing major minutes was a needle mover for this team.

Hellems quietly rounding into final form

Jericole Hellems was supposed to be NC State’s most consistent scorer. He was their leading returning scorer but struggled early on with his shooting. Lately, that’s all in the past. Hellems is shooting 41.5% from 3 point range on the season (That’s 5th overall in the ACC for guys who have 80 or more attempts). He’s shooting a blistering 62% from the floor over the past 4 games, and he’s making some insanely tough shots. This is the level they need Hellems to play if they want to really make a late-season run.

He finished with a team-high 21 points on 8-12 shooting and 5-9 from beyond the arc.

I don’t think you understand how good Terquavion Smith is

Terquavion Smith is a freshman, but you wouldn’t know it by watching him. Everyone focuses on his high-level confidence, but what I see is more a lack of fear. He’s a kid who, yes, is very confident in his ability. But he’s a guy who isn’t scared of anyone. He isn’t scared of any moment and he isn’t scared of failure.

Meanwhile, all of that is equating into one heck of a freshman season. In this one, Smith single-handedly kept the Pack in the game early as he hit 3 early 3s and had a great drive to the hoop for a layup. The team fed off of him and the rest is history.

Smith finished with 20 points on 8-13 shooting and was 4-7 from 3.

Now, let’s look at just how good of a freshman season he’s having.

Smith is 2nd in the ACC in scoring for freshmen. He’s shooting the highest percentage from 3 of any freshman and has attempted and hit more 3s than ANYONE in the ACC. That’s right, no one has hit more 3s than Terquavion Smith. He leads the ACC with 55.

 

Breon Pass providing big value in small sample sizes

Pass is in the midst of working his way into being the first guy off the bench for Kevin Keatts. The freshman PG played 9 minutes in this one and played nearly perfect. He defended well, he protected the ball as the lead guard, he scored on a contested drive at the rim, and he knocked down an open 3.

What more can you ask for from a backup PG? The kid is giving Keatts the option of moving Seabron off the ball for spurts which is important, especially now since teams are opting to guard him with smaller guards in hopes to keep him out of the lane.

Pass played 9 minutes, finished with 5 points on 2-2 shooting. He had one rebound, one assist and zero turnovers. He is making his case to be the first guy off the bench for NC State.

It’s all about defense going forward

Keatts lineup adjustments has the NC State offense humming. Hellems is one of the ACCs best shooters. Terquavion Smith is one of the ACCs best shooters. Dereon Seabron is one of the ACCs best all-around offensive players. And Casey Morsell is rounding into form (and the 2nd best 3pt shooter in terms of %).

NC State doesn’t have an offense problem. That narrative from early in the season was eliminated when Seabron moved to the point and the ball started moving move.

NC State’s key moving forward is defense. And with Casey Morsell now logging major minutes, NC State doesn’t really have a weak link defensively, and they are in fact, led on defesnse by Morsell.

Sure, Dowuona is still going to struggle with certain bigs, and losing Manny Bates will always hurt, but you’re seeing the best version possible of this NC State team.

…and it wouldn’t surprise us if this was the beginning of a big late-season run.

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Legalwuf
Legalwuf
10 months ago

This is one of the most understandable and logical analyses I have seen of one of Keatts’ teams – in fact, of just about any NC State team!! Thanks for the time and effort that I am sure it takes to do this!!

Afterglow
Afterglow
10 months ago

This was a great win. I’m hopeful we’re in the midst of a late season run but the funniest part about yesterday’s game is that for me at least, the summary of this whole season is that I’m only comfortable with a twenty-point lead. That I imagine is PTSD runoff from games where we squandered leads while the wheels simply came off the bus. Don’t get me wrong, every win whether by one, two, or eighteen, is a good one, but I just struggle to relax because of our crazy scoring droughts. Hopefully now we have enough working parts where… Read more »

Papajohn
Papajohn
10 months ago

“…beginning of a big late-season run”
Hope you are right. But I think about the best we can hope for is the team finishing strong, and looking forward to next year – like the football team is doing.

Rev
Rev
10 months ago
Reply to  Papajohn

As State fans, we all live in hope. I remember when almost every ACC game came down to the last 2 minutes. Even then, two or three possessions make the difference. I don’t think any freshmen come into the league realizing the level of intensity required on defense, or the constant focus on every possession. If you have enough experience to work them in slowly, teams do much better the first half of the season. So, I really hope this IS the beginning of a late season run.

NC State Basketball

Kevin Keatts Postgame Press Conference After Coppin State: BULLETED

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NC State Head Coach Kevin Keatts met with the media after the Wolfpack’s 94-72 victory over Coppin State tonight. You can watch the press conference here, or check out a BULLETED breakdown below.

  • First of all we’re going to continue to pray for Dusan Mahorcic.
    • I do not have an update at this point. He’s with our medical doctors and our trainers and I will know more hopefully in the next 24 hours.
    • We will  give you some type of an update when we get one.
    • I just wanted to keep him calm. It’s tough and you guys look at them as my players. I look at them as my  kids.
    • It is hard to see any of your kids or any of those guys in that situation.
    • I was there just to calm him down and let him know we are with him. I am obviously praying for him.
  • Our guards were really special  tonight.
    • There were 3 great guards on the floor because Sam Sessoms [of Coppin State] was pretty good  also.
    • It was really good to see Jarkel Joiner bounce back after not having a great game against Pitt.
    • Terquavion Smith was a pro’s pro tonight.
      • He did a little bit of everything, he defended, he scored  the basketball, he passed the basketball.
  • We didn’t feel like we played well in the Pitt game and we wanted to come in here, have a better showing, and play both ends of the floor.
  • I’ll get a thousand  questions about Reynolds Coliseum and we should play every game in here, but don’t send those  questions to me, send them to somebody else, but it’s a great venue and it was a great night.
    • I’m really appreciative of our fans for showing up.
    • It was an electric night. I thought the energy was great. We had a lot of fun.
  • The ‘STATE’ jerseys looked great, I thought they were  outstanding.
    • Hopefully we can see them again, maybe they’re not just a 1-game deal.
  • During the game, I thought we had a good 1st half, but we didn’t close the 1st half the way I wanted to.
  • We came out, and I  thought we were playing a lot better in the 2nd half, and then unfortunately with Dusan Mahorcic’s  situation it took the air out of us a bit, but we closed the game.
  • I’m happy the way Ernest Ross played today.
  • They [Coppin State] did a good job getting back in transition.
    • A lot of Casey Morsell’s shots have come when he was running the floor and getting out in transition.
    • They stayed at home.
    • The reason we got so many open looks to our post guys when we rolled was because they stayed with our shooters a lot.
  • I’ll take them [Joiner & Smith]. I don’t want to trade them, so I’ve got to say I’ll take them. I’m keeping them. I’m not  throwing them in, so I’m keeping those guys.
    • They are good and tonight they were electric. They were really good.
    • Every run that Coppin made they were there to answer it.
    • Here is what we do in practice with those guys.
      • I need them to play against each other because they challenge each other to become  better, but I also have to develop some type of chemistry with them.
      • So early on in the season, it was those 2 guarding each other, and they made each other better.
      • In the end, I have now switched it so they have to play together, so they have a better understanding and feel on how to play together.
  • Coppin is a team that is really dangerous. People from the other side won’t have name recognition, but you look at the Power Five and the bigger schools they have played, that is what has been great.
    • Georgetown was an overtime game, maybe multiple overtime games, and the Maryland game was tough.
    • He [Juan Dixon] has done that against all competition. I am happy for Juan.
      • I remember him back when I was at Hargrave. I sent Lonnie Baxter to Maryland who played with Juan and I have seen him since he was a really young kid.
  • One of the best kids I could have ever recruited [Joiner], especially the point guard position.
    • He didn’t have to tell me. I don’t know if he went  home that night [After Pitt].
    • Obviously, he probably went in and took 2,000 shots that night or more.
  • The #1 thing these kids are here for is their education.
    • Today was the last day of class, meaning we are going into exams, so we have to figure out a good balance of when to practice.
    • Right now our priorities shifted to make sure the guys finish out the semester strong, and take care of their academics. It is a great balancing act.
  • You gotta let me get past tonight, they’re [Miami] good, very talented.
    • I haven’t watched Miami at all, but I do know name recognition.
      • I know Isaiah Wong seems like he’s been around for 7 years, and he’s played great.
      • I’ll get a chance to watch them starting late tonight and early tomorrow.
      • They’re  talented.
      • Jim Larrañaga has done a great job with his team, it’ll be a tough road game for us, as all of them are.
  • Our guards did a great job of controlling the game, thats the maturity that I’m looking for.
    • I’ve got a Senior that’s been around a long time, in Jarkel.
    • I’ve also got a guy that is an elite scorer, who a lot of the conversations I’ve had with him are: ‘control the game, finish the game, be efficient down the  stretch, and don’t settle.’
      • He did a great job of not just taking deep 3’s, even though he took the last one.
      • He drove the basketball and we got to the free throw line.
  • Amazing. It’s not just NC State, you could almost make an argument that it’s America’s team, the ‘83 run was great.
    • It feels like every time you see something about them, I have to stop what I am doing just to read. It gets your heart beating a little bit.
    • It’s a great team with great folks, it was a great coach.
    • We’re excited…we’re gonna bring them back.
      • I don’t know if I’m supposed to tell you that, but I think they’re supposed to come back in February to honor those guys and I think that’s the right thing to do…and if we can bring them back every week we should.
      • I think there were a few here tonight, and I’m glad our guys played well enough where our guys respect what those guys did.
  • You know he’s played so well and other people will say, you know, well he’s only averaged 16 points per game, you know the NBA scouts, they know he can score the basketball.
    • They wanted to see him pass the basketball, so I think he’s doing a really good job.
      • He’s either 1st or 2nd in the ACC in assists.
      • We’re seeing a young man grow up, and by the way, he’s saying to you guys: ‘Hey I can score if I need to, I just wanna show you I got a little bit more in my bag.’
      • But he’s really matured, you know he’s a kid.
        • And you know one of the reasons why he’s back is because he’s a kid and he enjoys his teammates.
      • You know when you saw Dusan go down, you know, I think he was affected more than anybody.

         

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NC State Basketball

NC State’s Dusan Mahorcic Suffers Knee Injury vs. Coppin State

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NC State Center Dusan Mahorcic suffered a gruesome looking knee injury tonight in the Wolfpack’s 94-72 victory over Coppin State in Reynolds Coliseum.

From what I’ve heard, Mahorcic suffered an injury to his kneecap, but the severity of his injury is unknown at this time. A kneecap injury can visually be a disturbing sight, and the NC State squad, especially Terquavion Smith, who had a good look at it, were emotionally moved in concern.

We will have to wait to see how long Mahorcic is out, but the need for DJ Burns to be able to play more minutes just became much more important. Also, Ernest Ross, who has always had a high ceiling, is going to need to grow up fast if Mahorcic is out for an extended period of time.

We are praying for you Dusan! Get well soon Big Fella!

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Men’s Basketball’s: NC State 94 Coppin State 72: Highlight Reel & Condensed Game

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NC State defeated Coppin State 94-72 in Reynolds Coliseum tonight. You can check out the Box Score here. Below is the Highlight Reel & Condensed Game from the ACC Digital Network.

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Men’s Basketball: NC State 94 Coppin State 72: BOX SCORE

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NC State improved to 8-2 on the year, defeating Coppin State 94-72 tonight in Reynolds Coliseum.

Only 2 Wolfpack players scored in double figures, and it was none other than the dangerous tandem of Terquavion Smith and Jarkel Joiner.

Smith led the team in points and assists, with 33 & 7 respectively. Smith wax clicking tonight, shooting 12-21 from the field, and 6 of 12 from three.

Joiner bounced back from a poor shooting performance against Pitt, scoring 29 points, shooting 11-21 from the field, and a blazing 5-7 from three.

Jack Clark had a poor shooting night, hitting only 1 of 7, but he managed to impact the game in every other way. Clark had 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals.

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