Time: 7:00 pm
TV: ACCN, ESPN
Survive and Advance. That’s exactly what the Pack did last night by hanging on until the final 2 minutes and then pulling away at the end. The Pack showed something at the end of the game that they’ve lacked all season, mental toughness. After the Pack gave up the lead they buckled down and played smart ball and executed very well down the stretch. Now, the Pack gave up the lead because of mental breakdowns with inbounding, lazy passes, completely losing their men on defense, so don’t take this as they’ve turned any corner but it appears they were able to collect themselves and finish the game which is something they haven’t done often this year.
The Pack once again struggled on defense, giving up 44% Offensive Rebounding, making a team who struggles to shoot the ball effectively to make it look so dang easy, and many times players completely losing track of their man. The ironic part is it was their ability to cause TO’s that was a big factor in the win tonight.
Miami pushed, shoved, and grabbed Warren all night long and while it slowed him down he was still a monster out there but he needed help and it came in the form of Ralston Turner who was en fuego at times. Turner will never be uttered by anyone as a defensive player so his ability to score last night helped because as great as Warren is someone, several someones, need to be able to put the ball in the basket.
Survive and Advance to Friday night for a rematch against the Orange. I’m not going to rehash the end of game, there are enough threads on the site for that, what I’m going to cover first is what happened during the rest of the 39:45 of the game.
NC State came in with a great gameplan to beat the Orange and it worked…sort of. The Orange only play 5 guys, yes a 6th man plays about 15 minutes but when you get down to it there are only 5 guys really involved, so no fresh legs coming in to spell or give them a shot in the arm of energy from the bench. The Pack was able to make it difficult for the Orange to score, holding them to a sub-100 ORtg, forcing bad shots, and limiting their offensive rebounding. On top of that they were able to effectively minimize Fair and Ennis by holding them to 20 pts collectively and both to a sub-80 ORtg. The Pack failed on offense though. They got a great game from Washington and Turner provided some help, while Warren was having an average day by his standards. Usually that would be enough to win but Syracuse is a Top 10 team and everyone needs to contribute, especially when scoring even if it’s only 6-8 points. So what was the unknown in the game that had a serious impact on the final outcome? Rakeem Christmas. Christmas not only doesn’t score much per game but he doesn’t even look to shoot each game, usually about 6 ppg from about 4 shots. The Pack had no answer for Christmas who appeared to be shooting into a basket twice as large as everyone else. Add on top of it he was a monster on the boards and seriously effected the Pack’s inside game. When Christmas wasn’t blocking shots he was altering them and for a team who gets their points from 2 ft in that explains a lot.
Congrats Pack, you’re effectively secured yourself a bid in the NIT by beating the Canes. Beating the Orange won’t get you into the tournament but you’ll be a lot closer to the bubble. If you can go out there and execute the same gameplan as last time except this time come up with an answer to Christmas, maybe box him out with Anya while the Pack is on offense. I’m begging everyone to please help Warren out, he can’t do it alone. Also, please try and focus for the full 40 minutes.
Because the Pack has gotten exactly what they’ve needed so far in seeding and matchups in order to give them the best chance of making the bubble, I predict NCStateShit happens tonight. We’ll see it. It’ll come in some form and everyone will recognize it for what it is.
KenPom likes the Orange by 7.