What a meltdown. NC State led against BYU for 29:21 out of 40 minutes, but ultimately fell to the Cougars 86-95.
For the first three quarters of this game, NC State was leading against BYU, but the unraveling began earlier in the 2nd half.
Vanderbilt lives and dies by the three point shot. In the first half, the Wolfpack held them to 26% shooting from beyond the arch. In the 2nd half, they shot 60% from three-point land. Most of these three-pointers were uncontested, because NC State was unable to push through screens, over pursued the passing lanes, ultimately leaving BYU shooters open on skip passes.
Also, BYU shot an insane 70% in the 2nd half. Yes, the Cougars were shooting lights out, but the Wolfpack started taking ill advised shots, and didn’t feed Burns or take high percentage shots as BYU started cooking, making it difficult to squash their momentum.
Look, I could talk about the referees. In fact, lets do that for a second. The ejection of Ben Middlebrooks and KJ Keatts was bizarre. Dennis Parker Jr. was simply trying to help up his fallen teammate, but was forcibly blocked by BYU players, who wouldn’t let him through their barricade. A media timeout was called, and the coaches and players started walking onto the court, while simultaneously tensions were rising a few feet away. As a result, Middlebrooks and Keatts were ejected for leaving the bench during an on-court scuffle.
Then in the final minutes, Jayden Taylor was issued an odd technical foul for trying to get through a screen, which seemed like a makeup call from him being chatty with the refs earlier. Then, he somehow was issued a technical foul from the bench a few plays later, and head coach Kevin Keatts was somehow ejected after one technical, for passionately expressing his dislike for the ejection of Taylor.
Father and Son ejection. Someone figure out the last time that happened in college basketball.
Silly stuff happening in Vegas.
Despite the unraveling, the way NC State played against a quality opponent away from home for 3/4 of a game was impressive. Unfortunately, it takes 4/4 of a game to win.
Let me throw out some props, since this has been laced thick with frustration.
Senior Guard Casey Morsell had 28 points, which was a career high. Morsell shot 10 of 17 from the field, 3 of 6 from three, and led the team with 4 steals.
Junior Guard Jayden Taylor had 17 of his own, shooting an impressive 6 of 10 from the field and 3 of 6 from three.
Senior big man DJ Burns was able to score with ease when given the ball (If you can’t tell, I think our unraveling was due to guards forcibly taking poor shots instead of feeding Burns.), scoring 16 points on 7 of 10 shooting. Burns also led the team with 7 rebounds and 4 assists.
Senior Guard DJ Horne also had 14 points, hitting 4 of his 7 three-point attempts, though he only shot 5 of 14 from the field. Horne was 1 of 7 on 2-point field goal attempts.
The Wolfpack only turned the ball over 9 times, and turned BYU over 17 times. They took 2 more free throw attempts than the Cougars.
Simply put, BYU couldn’t miss in the 2nd half. It wasn’t a lack of effort on the defensive end by NC State, but a lack of discipline on the defensive end.
This sounds cliche, but this put a lot on film to learn from, and there’s a lot to learn. This team has a lot going for it, but many of these players are new to each other, and that showed in the final 10 minutes of the game. A lack of cohesion and chemistry was revealed under pressure, but I expect this team to grow in these areas. Their effort was never in question.
NC State will head down to Mississippi to play Ole Miss in the ACC/SEC challenge next Tuesday night at 9pm.
NC State NET Rankings Report After Syracuse Loss
NC State lost to Syracuse 83-87 last night, and as a result, the Wolfpack fell 5 spots in the NET Rankings to #80. The Orange moved up 6 spots to #84.
NC State is now 9th in the ACC in the NET rankings.
For a refresher on how the NET Rankings are calculated:
Using the quadrant system, which was in its fourth season in 2020-21, the quality of wins and losses will be organized based on game location and the opponent’s NET ranking.
Quadrant 1: Home 1-30, Neutral 1-50, Away 1-75
Quadrant 2: Home 31-75, Neutral 51-100, Away 76-135
Quadrant 3: Home 76-160, Neutral 101-200, Away 135-240
Quadrant 4: Home 161-353, Neutral 201-353, Away 241-353
The number of Quadrant 1 wins and Quadrant 3/4 losses will be incredibly important when it comes time for NCAA tournament selection and seeding. (NCAA)
Thoughts on NC State’s 83-87 Loss to Syracuse
NC State’s (16-10/8-7) 83-87 loss to Syracuse this evening might have been the nail-in-the-coffin when it comes to the Wolfpack’s NCAA Tournament aspirations. They were barely on the bubble as it was, but this game and the next two games against Boston College and Florida State were “must wins.” On top of that, the Wolfpack probably needed to beat Pitt in the regular season finale, and beat either Duke or UNC.
With this loss, NC State will need a miracle. They will need to win the rest of their regular season games, which concludes with 3 consecutive Quad 1 games.
In regards to this evenings game, it’s hard to beat a team when you allow them to shoot 61.3% in the first half, and allow a guy who averages 11.3 points per game (Chris Bell) to sink 8 of 9 three’s at the halfway mark. Sure, you could make the excuse that they were just hitting everything they threw up, but the defense was lackluster, and they failed to adjust to a player with a hot hand.
What I’m about to say isn’t meant to describe a moral victory for NC State. With that being said, this team didn’t give up, and clawed back from a 15-point halftime deficit (16-point at one point in the 2nd half), to take a 1-point lead with 3:15 left in the game. That was the first time the Wolfpack had led since it was 2-0.
Senior DJ Horne was sensational once again, scoring 25+ points for the 5th straight game, matching what Cat Barber did back in 2015-16. Horne finished with 32 points, hitting 11 of his 20 field goal attempts, and an insane 6 of 8 from three.
Could you argue that Horne was fouled on the last play? I guess, but I wouldn’t have called it.
Three other Wolfpack players scored in double figures: Ben Middlebrooks (12), DJ Burns (12) and Jayden Taylor (10). Honestly, they all shot well. Middlebrooks had a double-double, with 10 rebounds.
Mohamed Diarra was solid with 7 points (3-6) and 8 boards.
Syracuse came back to reality in the second half, and ended up shooting 51% from the field, but the Wolfpack shot 47%. Both teams shot well. In fact, NC State actually scored more points off of turnovers, had more second chance points and had more free throws.
You simply can’t put yourself in a position to dig yourself out of a 16-point deficit. You can’t allow a guy to make 8 of 9 three’s in the opening half, with 6 of them being practically uncontested.
The Wolfpack have lost 3 of the last 4, and all 3 losses have been by 4 points or less. I wouldn’t say the Pack lost any of those three games due to a lack of effort. Rather, I would say it was primarily due to inconsistency, a lack of discipline and poor decisions in timely moments (Jayden Taylor’s TO with 1:13 left with the game tied).
With Wake Forest beating Pitt tonight, a Wolfpack win would have put them in 4th place in the ACC.
A big missed opportunity for the Pack this evening.
NC State 83 Syracuse 87: BOX SCORE
DJ Horne is Looking to Continue His Streak of 20+ Points or More
NC State is trying to stop a 6-game losing streak to Syracuse tonight, but Senior Wolfpack Guard DJ Horne is trying to continue a streak.
Currently, Horne has scored 20+ points in 5 straight games, which is tied with what Terquavion Smith did last year. If Horne scores 20+ points tonight, his 6-game streak will be the longest since 2015-16, when Cat Barber strung together 7 straight games of 20+ points.
Horne also has scored 25+ points in 4 straight games. If he does so again tonight, he will be the first player to do so since Barber did so in 2015-16, when he scored 25+ in 5-straight games.
What Horne has done in his coming home campaign has been nothing short of remarkable. He is shooting 43.4% from three, which ranks 2nd in the ACC. In his last 18 games, Horne is shooting 46.6% from deep. In ACC play, Horne is averaging 19.3 points per game, which ranks 2nd in the conference.
Here’s what Horne’s numbers look like over his 5-game streak of 20+ points: 26.6 points/51.8 FG%/48.8 3PT%.