NC State 77
NC State avenged last year’s painful last-second loss to Marquette with a resouding second half performance to advance to a surprising 6-1 record this year. State’s win ended Marquette’s 24 consecutive home win streak vs non-conference opponents.
With no disrespect to the performance delivered by Tracy Smith, Javi Gonzalez, Dennis Horner and Josh Davis (9 pts; 6 rebs; 2 steals in 16 mins), the difference in this game was the play of Farnold Degand who made his 2009-2010 debut for the Wolfpack. Degand entered the game with just a few minutes to go in the first half and the Wolfpack’s struggling offense started to find its footing. State ultimately scored only 25 points in the first half and went into halftime down 11 points with things looking bleak.
But in the second half, Josh Davis helped spark a defensive turnaroud and the Wolfpack successfully leveraged the offensive options provided by Degand for an explosion unlike anything we’ve seen in a long time. The result was 17 second half points for Tracy Smith and a hot Javi Gonzalez that ended the afternoon with 15 as the Wolfpack scored 52 points in the second half (despite missing a ton of free throws).
After committing eight turnovers in the first 15 minutes of the game with Julius Mays flanking a shaky Javi Gonzalez, Degand’s sudden presence served to secure the ball and balance the floor and create options for the red & white.
If we may toot our own horn for a moment — SFN has been stressing the absence of Farnold Degand in recent posts, going so far as to call out Degand in the title of our blog entry following State’s loss to Northwestern. (Link)
Tonight was a night when you could really see where Farnold Degand could help this team. His athleticism, length, quickness and shooting ability are all superior to those of Julius Mays. I love Julius Mays and appreciate his contributions to this team. But that doesn’t make my statement about Degand less true. Who knows the impact Degand could have had on both ends of the court if he was playing.
Of course, nothing is easy with the Wolfpack; leading by double digits with less than two minutes remaining, State proceeded to miss a multitude of free throws and allow Marquette a ton of free points that ultimately made the game much closer than it had to be. After leading 63-49 (our largest lead) with 5:28 remaining, we converted only 6-of-15 from the free throw line, which allowed Marquette to cut our lead to four. For the afternoon, State as only 10 of 20 from the free throw line; but was 7 of 12 from the three point line for 58% after Tuesday night’s miserable 11% vs Northwestern.
As one of our community members highlighted – ‘the difference between a Mays/Williams backcourt and a Javi/Degand backcourt was roughly 22 points today’ – which includes the Wolpack’s meltdown at the end of the game. At the two minute mark of the game, the point differential was approximately 30 points in Mays ~15 minutes vs Degand’s ~22 minutes.
We had a great conversation during the game in this entry if you would like to review the blow by blow.
Don’t look now…but NC State is building quite a nice little body of work for the year. Before today, the Wolfpack had played the 39th toughest schedule in the country and was sitting at #29 in the RPI. Winning on the road at (currently #66) Marquette certainly won’t serve to hurt State’s positioning. Of course it is grossly early in the year, but with solid non-conference opportunities like Arizona and Florida remaining on the horizon, NC State is at least currently ‘playing for something’ — which many people did not expect to be the case.