NC State started the day as a 7.5 favorite in Las Vegas and was bid up to 8 points by bettors. The Wolfpack didn’t disappoint with a 94-76 win. TJ Warren led all scorers with 21 points. Richard Howell added 19, Scott Wood had 15, CJ Leslie 13, and Lorenzo Brown had 11 points with 10 assists. Rodney Purvis added 8 points (most of them early).
With the win, the Wolfpack advances to the Championship game on Sunday against Oklahoma State.
Scott Wood found his shooting touch and T.J. Warren kept his.
Wood hit five 3-pointers and Warren led all scorers with has 21 points to give N.C. State an easy 94-76 win over Massachusetts in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off on Friday.
The sixth-ranked Wolfpack will face Oklahoma State in the tournament’s title game on Sunday.
Wood struggled in Thursday’s win over Penn State, while Warren had 22 points against the Nittany Lions. Wood finished 15 points, including a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer, and Warren continues to be a revelation off the bench again.
UMass got three 3-pointers from Jesse Morgan off the bench, his third at 8:06 in the first half cut N.C. State’s lead to 30-22. Then Warren scored on a three-point play, on a feed from Wood, and Wood drained three 3s in the final 3 minutes and 22 seconds of the half.
With five players in double-figures, N.C. State stretched out its 16-point halftime lead to as many as 28 in the second half.
Lorenzo Brown had 10 assists to go with 10 points, to rebound from a tough game against Penn State and Richard Howell, who had foul trouble against Penn State, scored 19 points to go with 11 rebounds.
Akula Wolf (Backingthepack.com)
NC State Advances To Puerto Rico Tip-Off Title Game With 94-76 Win Over UMass
I really thought UMass would keep up with the Wolfpack in this game, but I’m glad to have been proven wrong on that one. The tempo was high, not surprisingly, and State won this game in all four factors. If the Pack had been able to hit free throws at a higher clip, it almost certainly would have crossed the century mark in scoring. It was an impressive win against a team that most feel can contend in the A-10 this season, and that’s a pretty deep conference.
BOX SCORE: State 94, UMass 76
Video: NC State 94, Massachusetts 76
Harry Plumer (masslive.com)
No. 6 North Carolina State’s talent, athleticism too much for UMass basketball in 94-76 defeat
There are plenty of reasons to lose a basketball game. Turnovers, missed free throws, bad shot selection — the list goes on as long as your imagination will let it.
Here’s one you won’t hear that often: The other team was just more talented.
Ultimately, that’s what it came down to in Friday’s semifinal between the University of Massachusetts and No. 6 North Carolina State. The Wolfpack, with their supreme athleticism and five-star recruits pounded the Minutemen 94-76, led by 21 points from freshman forward T.J. Warren and 19 points and nine rebounds from senior forward Richard Howell.
“They’re not rated sixth in the country and picked to win the ACC for any reason other than they’re a good basketball team,” Kellogg said. “I’ve been around really good teams, I’ve coached them, and they’re a really good team.”
North Carolina State coach Mark Gottfried said he didn’t think the Wolfpack would have much trouble with UMass’ up-tempo style and pressure defense. His team’s lethal combination of speed and size created a nightmare of a matchup for Kellogg.
“I felt like we’re a team where if you want to press us, I think that we can make you pay,” Gottfried said. “We felt like they would stay with it, too, because that’s how they play, and that we’d have a lot of opportunities on the break to score. I thought we could get 100 today. We came up a little short.”
“Not having a ton of time to prepare, we didn’t have much to switch up with. We went with how we play and how we do, and tonight that wasn’t good enough,” Kellogg said. “They got the ball in as fast as any team we’ve played and really beat our pressure up the floor.”
“They have four McDonald’s All-Americans, a couple guys that are probably draft picks, and on occasion those guys make plays,” Kellogg said with a hint of sarcasm. “You run something and they make a play that a normal guy can’t make.”
Eamonn Brennan (ESPN.com)
So, Oklahoma State looks better
A couple of caveats are required here:
1. It is still very early in the season. Maybe this entire blog post will be rendered useless if/when No. 6 NC State (or UMass) dominates OSU Sunday afternoon. It’s possible.
2. Tennessee played terrible offensive basketball Friday. I mean, just terrible. Cuonzo Martin’s team made a grand total of eight — eight! — two-point field goals, and went 5-of-23 from 3, for a grand total of 26.0 percent from the field, 31 percent eFG% and .72 points per trip. No one played well. Jarnell Stokes was 2-of-8. Trae Golden was 4-of-12. No other player converted more than one field goal apiece. Give Oklahoma State’s team some defensive credit if you like, but the Cowboys didn’t get that much better on the defensive end a day after an OT win over Akron. Tennessee just threw up a complete and utter stinker. This much is undeniable.
But despite those two things, there were a lot of positive signs in Oklahoma State’s performance Friday.
Besides some general impressions — most notably the spacing Oklahoma State maintained, which opened the court brilliantly for their talented and athletic wings — the first is Marcus Smart. Just about everyone who had spent considerable time watching Smart play high school basketball, from Dave Telep to Billy Donovan, who coached Smart in the USA U-18s and came away singing Smart’s praises from the mountaintop, said Smart was by far the best competitor and teammate of any player in the 2012 class.
That is always good to hear. But there are lots of good teammates in the world; Smart can really play, too. On Friday he had 17 points (5-of-12 from the field, 6-of-8 from the free throw line) with nine rebounds, three assists, and two steals, all the way taking the majority of OSU’s ballhandling responsibilities. He doesn’t just have the intangibles — he’s a strong, well-built 6-foot-3 point guard with every tool in the toolbox. He could very well be a star.
Gary Parrish (CBSSports.com)
Gary Parrish’s Weekend Look Ahead
Top game: The Puerto Rico Tipoff is an exempt tournament that brings us daytime basketball during the week, and for that I’m thankful (even if Puerto Ricans don’t seem to be). But the weekday quarterfinals and semifinals lead us to a Sunday title game that should produce the weekend’s best matchup — Oklahoma State vs. Friday night’s UMass-North Carolina State winner. Worth noting is that we could — if UMass beats sixth-ranked NC State — have a game featuring Travis Ford coaching against his former school. Ford led the Minutemen before Derek Kellogg took over the Minutemen. Now Kellogg actually lives in Ford’s old house in Amherst, which means we’re this close to college basketball’s first matchup in history between two men who have at different times owned the same home. (Note: I’m not certain that’s true. I’m just assuming it’s probably true.)
Guaranteed to be an upset: How about a conditional upset pick? If the Puerto Rico Tipoff final is Oklahoma State vs. NC State, give me the Cowboys in an upset. If it’s Oklahoma State vs. UMass, give me the Minutemen in an upset. In other words, I’m predicting an upset in the Puerto Rico Tipoff title game even though we don’t yet know who will be playing. I realize it’s weird. Just roll with it.