The Wolfpack just seems to be getting better and better. The chemistry this team shows is excellent. Tonight, they went to Knoxville as an eight point underdog and had an extremely impressive victory over a Tennessee team that is expected to be in the NCAA Tournament in March. NC State lead wire-to-wire in a 65-58 victory that had TJ Warren lead the Pack with 21 points.
The Pack jumped out to first half leads of 6-0, 19-11, 30-15, and lead 37-20 at the half. It was the best first half I have seen the Pack play on the road since February 16, 2012 at Cameron Indoor. We won’t discuss the last 11 minutes of that debacle though. Nor will we discuss Dan Dakich’s obsession with last year’s team. Hey Dan, that was last year. Let’s try to stay on point and talk about this year’s team.
The previous road game had the Pack unable to come through in the final minutes against Cincinnati. Tonight though was different. Mark Gottfried’s team would not be denied. Each player that played for State played well.
- TJ Warren – 21 points and 11 rebounds in spite of dealing with good defense by the Vols’ Josh Richardson.
Cat Barber – 12 points and 4 assists. 4 of his buckets were big time as Warren was on the bench and the Vols were threatening to make the game close.
Jordan Vandenberg – 4 blocks in 12 minutes. Early foul trouble didn’t stop him from making his presence felt against the bigs for the Vols.
Lennard Freeman – 9 rebounds in 20 minutes. Continues to be a Dennis Rodman type rebounder for the Pack.
Desmond Lee – 10 points. Slashed and drove the ball to the rim early and often.
Beejay Anya – 5 blocks and one mean half hook for a bucket. Between Vandenberg and Anya, the Pack dominated the much more celebrated frontcourt of Stokes and Maymon.
Kyle Washington – 5 points, 7 rebounds, and abundant energy. Freeman and Washington would not let anyone else get a rebound. Washington brought a great motor tonight.
Ralston Turner – 5 points. Made a couple of big shots.
Tyler Lewis – Ran the team well when called upon.
The defense was outstanding tonight. Tennessee only shot 29% from the field, and was a horrendous 3-24 from behind the arc. Part of that was the Wolfpack defense for sure. 12 blocks (9 by either Vandenberg and Anya) was inspiring. Having seen Tennessee play several times this year, and a lot last year, the key in my opinion was to jump out to an early lead on Tennessee. When that happens, they stop going down to the post and start jacking up threes. Outside of Jordan McRae (who should have been the SEC Player of the Year last year), there is not yet another trusted outside shooter. The statistic ESPNU put up early in the 2nd half was prescient. When the Vols shoot more than 15 3-pointers in game, they are 0-3 (now 0-4). When shooting 15 or less 3-pointers, the Vols are 6-0. Tonight it was 3-24. Therefore, a Wolfpack win.
Tonight was a great win for the Wolfpack for several reasons:
1. Goal every game is to be 1-0 when the clock strikes 00:00.
2. Now have a 6 game winning streak.
3. Confidence soars with road win against a probable NCAA Tournament team
4. Resume building win for hopeful NCAA berth
This tweet by @NCStateFootball sums up the evening.