NC STATE BASKETBALL
Joe Giglio (N&O)
Brown, Wood lead N.C. State to 83-70 win over Georgia Tech
N.C. State (13-2, 2-0 ACC) won its ninth straight game and improved to 2-0 in the ACC for the first time in nine years with a balanced effort from its veterans.
Brown added 10 assists to go with 19 points from junior C.J. Leslie and 12 rebounds from senior Richard Howell.
Apparently, the four-letter word that starts with “D” wasn’t even mentioned before Wednesday’s ACC home opener.
“We never do that,” Brown said in reference to talking about the next game. “We wait until the game is over and then we talk about it.”
Then asked about the Devils, Brown said: “I can’t wait until Saturday, 12 o’clock.”
N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said he didn’t talk about Duke and he didn’t hear any of his players mention the top-ranked Devils before Wednesday’s tilt with Georgia Tech.
“When you’ve got four starters that return and been through this league, I think they’re seasoned enough to know that you’ve got to play every night,” Gottfried said. “You can’t look past anybody in this conference.”
Luke DeCock (N&O)
This was a game Wolfpack had to have
Duke is a litmus test for N.C. State, a chance for the Wolfpack to measure itself against the top team not only in the ACC but in the country. It’s the kind of Triangle rivalry game that whips fans of both schools into a froth for days coming and going.
Georgia Tech was not. It was just another game against yet another of the teams battling for position in the ACC’s middle tier, the kind of game that gets lost in the shuffle of the season, an 8 p.m. start on a Wednesday night that doesn’t clear the bar for ESPN.
And yet this hard-fought win over Georgia Tech was by far the bigger of the two.
If N.C. State wants to win the ACC, it would help to beat Duke on Saturday. But it was absolutely imperative to beat Georgia Tech on Wednesday (and Boston College, and Clemson and Virginia Tech and the rest of the teams that aren’t going to contend for the title but will factor in who does). Just as the Wolfpack took care of business last weekend in Boston, it took care of business Wednesday at PNC Arena.
“You’re supposed to always beat the teams you’re supposed to beat,” N.C. State’s Scott Wood said. “It’s hard to win if you beat all the top teams and lose to all the bottom teams.”
Beating Duke would be great for N.C. State, but losing wouldn’t be the end of the world, either. There was no gray area with Georgia Tech: For what N.C. State wants to accomplish this season, winning was mandatory.
Brett Friedlander (starnewsonline.com)
Trap avoided: Now Wolfpack can set its sights on Duke
But as much as Tech has improved over this time last year, so has State. Only its growth has been greatest in areas that don’t always show up on any stat line other than the final score.
Instead of wilting under the pressure of a close game it was supposed to win, this Wolfpack team kept its poise, turned up the defensive heat on the Yellow Jackets and ran off a 17-5 spurt that effectively took care of business.
“Getting stops on the defensive end has been the key for us,” said Wood, who made a pair of clutch 3-pointers during the closing burst to finish with 20 points. Brown led all scorers with 21 points, to go along with 10 assists.
“When we’re in a stance and playing defense like we know we’re capable, it allows us to get out and run,” Wood said. “That’s when we’re at our best.”
That defense, particularly on the perimeter, is going to be even more important against the Blue Devils – whose inside game took a hit earlier Wednesday when it was announced that senior forward Ryan Kelly would be sidelined indefinitely with a foot injury.
State is also going to have to shore up its rebounding. Even though it finished with a 43-37 advantage on the boards, it allowed the Yellow Jackets too many second and third chances thanks to 14 offensive rebounds.
Those are things that will likely be addressed at practice the next two days. Now, at least, the Wolfpack can finally turn its attention to Duke and a game that means so much more in the great scheme of things than just an early share of first place in the ACC.
“It’s going to be wild. It’s a rivalry game,” Leslie said. “It will be big. They’re a great team. Right now we’re going to focus on getting prepared, coming out and playing a great team.”
Akula Wolf (BackingthePack.com)
NC State Beats Georgia Tech With Strong Finish, 83-70
Georgia Tech hadn’t allowed any opponent to score as efficiently as NC State did tonight–only three teams managed to crack a point per possession against the Jackets prior to this game. So it was a very good effort overall by the Pack at the offensive end; it’s impressive how this team can just go out and get 45+ in a half when it wants to.
Brown Leads No. 20 NC State Past Ga Tech, 83-70
Lorenzo Brown had 21 points and 10 assists and No. 20 North Carolina State pulled away late to beat Georgia Tech 83-70 on Wednesday night for its ninth straight win.
Scott Wood added 20 points and C.J. Leslie had 19 in his 10th straight game in double figures for the Wolfpack (13-2, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference).
The nation’s most accurate shooting team shot 50.9 percent and needed a late surge to remain on a roll heading into its biggest game of the season – a visit Saturday from top-ranked Duke.
Robert Carter Jr. had 15 points and 10 rebounds and Mfon Udofia added 13 points for the Yellow Jackets (10-4, 0-2).
They controlled the tempo for the first 30 minutes and led 51-47 with 10 minutes to play but managed just three field goals in the final 7½ minutes and lost their second straight.
This one was tight for most of the way, with 11 ties and 14 lead changes. With Georgia Tech patiently in charge of the pace, neither team could assemble anything resembling a run and neither team led by more than four until N.C. State got things rolling midway through the half.
Once the Wolfpack finally found a way to speed things up, they ran away from the Yellow Jackets.
For the second game in a row, NC State’s No. 20 ranked men’s basketball team came through in the clutch, surging past Georgia Tech in the final eight minutes of what had been a close game for an 83-70 victory Wednesday at PNC Arena.
Junior Lorenzo Brown led the Wolfpack with 21 points, as well as 10 assists, his fourth double-digit assist total of the season.
“Outside a couple of careless passes here and there, Lorenzo has been very good for us,” NC State head coach Mark Gottfried said. “He’s making key shots at key times offensively and defensively, he’s doing a good job for our team.”
Senior Scott Wood had his second consecutive late-game performance, hitting four 3-pointers and four of five free throws for his 20 points. Wood now has 20 3-pointers in the Pack’s last six games.
It was the ninth consecutive victory for the Wolfpack (13-2 overall, 2-0 ACC) and the 10th straight home win.
Junior C.J. Leslie also had 19 points for the Wolfpack, along with seven rebounds, for his 11th straight double-figure scoring game and 14 in the Pack’s 15 games this season. Freshman Rodney Purvis added 13.
Senior Richard Howell didn’t hit double figures or have a double-double, but he did have a game-high 12 rebounds. The Pack is now 20-5 over the last two seasons when Howell grabs double-figure boards.
“We did a nice job getting the ball where we wanted it late,” Gottfried said. “We made some really big shots. Scott Wood obviously had a couple and Lorenzo made some too. I thought defensively in the second half, we were a lot better.
“We guarded them pretty well in the second half and they were largely only scoring on second shots. We have to clean that up. Our defense in the second half was the difference in the game.”
Gottfried gave great for his team’s mental edge in the last two contests to Bob Alejo, NC State’s director of strength and conditioning.
“Our team is in great shape,” the second-year coach said. “There’s also a mental toughness. What happens with a team like this is that we have played good teams throughout the preseason and now it really is paying off.”
Matt Carter (TheWolfpacker.com)
Quick hits from NC State’s win over Georgia Tech
What the win means
NC State improves to 13-2 after winning its ninth straight game, the longest winning streak since the 2004-05 campaign, and 10th straight at home. The Pack is also 2-0 in ACC action. Georgia Tech fell to 10-4 and 0-2 in conference play.
The Pack improved to 9-4 in ACC home openers at the PNC Arena. They lead the overall series with Georgia Tech 53-37, and they are 3-2 in ACC home openers against the Yellow Jackets
This is the first time NC State has won its first two conference games since they did so in the 2003-04 season. That squad would finish 11-5 in league play. The last time NCSU started a season 13-2 was the 2005-06 campaign when they opened 14-2. They would hold a 21-5 record that year before losing five of its last six games.
Other stats of note
- NC State outrebounded Georgia Tech 43-37 overall, but Tech had a 14-9 edge on the offensive glass. That is partly explained by the Jackets shooting just 37.0 percent from the field. Tech still had a 17-11 advantage in second-chance points.
- The Wolfpack had the edge in transition, owning an 18-12 edge in fast break points.
- Georgia Tech had just seven turnovers compared to 13 for NC State, and the Jackets parlayed that into a 14-12 edge in points off turnovers.
- Tech’s bench outscored NCSU’s reserves 16-4. Freshman guard Tyler Lewis had all of State’s bench scoring, nailing all four of his free throw attempts.
Jacey Zembal (TheWolfpacker.com)
NC State finishes strong to top GT
NC State kicked up the intensity during the last eight minutes of the game Wednesday to a level Georgia Tech couldn’t match to break open a close game and roll to an impressive 83-70 victory at PNC Arena.
Junior point guard Lorenzo Brown had arguably his best game of the season with a game-high 21 points, to go along with 10 assists, five rebounds and three blocks, to lead the Wolfpack. Senior wing Scott Wood added 20 points and junior power forward C.J. Leslie had 19 to help NC State improve to 13-2 overall and 2-0 in the ACC.
“I think from here on out, I think we are one of the good teams out there, and teams should look out for us,” Brown said.
The victory sets up an early-season showdown against No. 1-ranked Duke at Noon Saturday at PNC Arena. The Blue Devils will be playing without senior starting power forward Ryan Kelly, who is out with a foot injury.
“They are a great team and have beaten a lot of good teams,” Wood said. “They definitely have earned their No. 1 ranking. They are well-coached and have a bunch of good players. We have to come in here and execute, frustrate them a little bit and hopefully come out with a win. I’m sure the crowd won’t be a problem.”
“We were just getting stops on the defensive end, and that’s been the key for us all year,” Wood said. “When we get in a stance and we are playing defense like we know we are capable of playing, that allows us to get out and run, and that is when we are at our best.”
“We played great defense,” Leslie said. “We played shut out defense. We knew what we had to do. We knew we couldn’t focus on Saturday’s game [vs. Duke].”
Gregory dismissed any kind of slight toward NC State’s defensive abilities.
“I think there is a perception out there that State isn’t very good defensively,” Gregory said. “I’m trying to figure out who started that rumor. They are long, they are athletic and they have good size, and have veteran players.”
BOX SCORE: NC State 83, Georgia Tech 70
Bret Strelow (FayObserver.com)
Wolfpack clears important hurdle
N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried walked off the floor and into the tunnel, where he was greeted with a congratulatory handshake from athletics department official Chris Kingston.
“One at a time, baby,” Gottfried said.
Two individuals carrying an oversized C.J. Leslie cutout – a free-throw distraction equipped with comically long arms – weren’t far behind Gottfried. They were looking for a spot to store the cutout until Saturday.
Because the 20th-ranked Wolfpack took care of business Wednesday night against Georgia Tech, playing with the necessary focus and maturity to grind out an 83-70 win, PNC Arena will be rocking for a meaningful matchup against top-ranked Duke two days from now.
The Yellows Jackets arrived in Raleigh allowing only 54.2 points per game, the sixth-best average in the country, but N.C. State executed precisely in the closing minutes and made enough stops to gain some separation.
“I know probably our entire schedule,” senior Scott Wood said, “but I’m playing this game, so you’d hate to lose this game and then come to the next game, so you have to make sure you take care of this one.”
That’s easier said than done. Last year, N.C. State had an extremely manageable 10-game stretch to begin the ACC schedule, with 7-3 looking like a worst-case scenario. That’s exactly where the Wolfpack stood after 10 games, but a surprising home loss to Georgia Tech dropped Gottfried’s first N.C. State team to 1-1 in the league and prevented it from visiting North Carolina in late January with an unbeaten conference record.
Named the ACC favorite before this season, the Wolfpack has reached its first highly anticipated game against Duke with a chance to make a statement, which is noteworthy considering N.C. State hadn’t started 2-0 in the league since 2004.
Bret Strelow (FayObserver.com)
Lorenzo Brown: Player of the game for N.C. State against Georgia Tech
N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried could hardly bear to watch some of the wild passes Lorenzo Brown threw early in the second half Wednesday night, but Brown was a net positive in the Wolfpack’s 83-70 win against Georgia Tech.
Brown had 21 points, 10 assists, five rebounds, three blocks and five turnovers.
“I said last year as a sophomore that he’s one of the premier point guards in the country,” Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory said. “There’s no doubt he’s proven that night-in and night-out.”
“The best thing he does is in transition,” Gregory said. “He can really make plays in transition. Any coach, five turnovers is probably too many. He makes some risky plays, too, but he’s just got a flare in the open court to be able to dissect a defense. He’s got great length, and he made the two 3s. I think he had made six the whole season. We have a tendency to let guys who can’t make 3s hit 3s.”
Ken Sugiura (ajc.com)
UPDATED: N.C. State too much for Tech
To have a chance against N.C. State, Georgia Tech needed 40 excellent minutes.
The Yellow Jackets were capable of about 33. Against a superior opponent on its home floor, Tech gave a credible effort before falling 83-70 at PNC Arena Wednesday night.
The Jackets continued to withstand the Wolfpack’s attempts at knockout punches before a 14-4 run put them on the mat. Turnovers and misses gave N.C. State the opening to score in transition and put the game away.
“We played a tough, hard-fought game,” guard Mfon Udofia said. “Sometimes you don’t end up on top.”
In the game, Tech led for nearly the entire first 10 minutes of the game and, until the final six minutes, never let the Wolfpack get ahead by more than four points. The final result was Tech’s second consecutive loss, which dropped the Jackets to 10-4 overall and 0-2 in the ACC. However, the game’s course in reaching the result reflected far better upon Tech than its defeat in the ACC opener to Miami.
“This is the hard part, because you’re close and you still don’t get it done,” coach Brian Gregory said. “Now you need to dig down a little deeper, and this’ll be a test of our character, as well.”
“That’s a good ballclub and we came out and we were just as good as them, if not better, up until the end,” Miller said.
Andrew Jones (FoxSports.com)
Wolfpack executing more intangibles
North Carolina State has talent, NBA talent. That isn’t debatable.
The No. 20 Wolfpack are also an experienced group, with two seniors and two juniors in the starting lineup. Freshman forward T.J. Warren may be the best sixth man in the ACC. So clearly, NC State has the pieces in place to win plenty of games this season, and give top-ranked Duke a test when the Blue Devils visit Saturday.
The missing link, many observers have opined, is that Mark Gottfried’s team doesn’t apply the same emphasis on the little things — also known as the intangibles — like other top clubs.
“We run a play called ‘corner,’ and the big guys set screens for Scott,” said point guard Lorenzo Brown (21 points, 10 assists). “We always go to Richard — (Wood) always goes to Richard’s side because he sets the best screens on this team. So give a lot of credit to Richard.”
When Wood (20 points on Wednesday) arrived at NC State after tearing up the nets playing high school ball in Indiana, it was almost alarming at how little he moved without the ball. He didn’t run off screens and wasn’t real adept at getting open when set plays were called his way.
Fast-forward four seasons, and Wood has improved immeasurably at moving, cutting and sliding off the big guys down low and popping out for open looks.
He says he’s not better moving without the ball, but when prodded he said, “I just move more,” Wood said, “I’m smarter.”
Hence, he’s better at moving without the ball. That it wasn’t a real conscious thing for him further illustrates how Gottfried has changed so many layers of this program in just his second year at the helm.
The little things are becoming more and more instinctive.
Locker Room Report: Wolfpack Players
“They are a great team. They’ve beaten a lot of great teams and they’ve definitely earned their No. 1 ranking.”
“I’m sure this crowd won’t be a problem.”
“I just remember trying to get out of the mosh pit.”
“I think Duke is a better team than Syracuse was when they came in… I feel like Duke is the best team in the nation right now and they’ve been playing that way.”
“Coach Gottfried wants us to be defensive-minded first… we’re starting to take a lot more pride in defense.”
“We can score with anybody, but stopping people is going to get us a championship.”
Locker Room Report: Mark Gottfried
“I think it’s a good win for us, and probably a couple of keys I thought were important. Defensively in the second half we were pretty good, maybe as good a stretch as we’ve had.”
“We still can get better, but I thought that was a difference.”
“Really down the stretch we executed our offense really well… scoring 83 points against them is an accomplishment. They are a good defensive team. We had 83 and maybe could have had 90 if we made a couple around the rim too.”
Gottfried: I liked where our defense was
North Carolina State head coach Mark Gottfried said he liked where the team’s defense was against Georgia Tech.
Brown: Coach told me to be more aggressive
NC State’s Lorenzo Brown said head coach Mark Gottfried told him to be more aggressive and that’s what he’s been trying to do.
Howell: We’re starting to take more pride in our defense
North Carolina State’s Richard Howell said the team is starting to take more pride in their defensive play.
Purvis: I think Wood’s the best shooter in the country
NC State’s Rodney Purvis had high praise for his teammate after their win over Georgia Tech.
Brett Friedlander (starnewsonline.com)
Duke’s Kelly out indefinitely with foot injury
Duke didn’t provide many details Wednesday about the nature of basketball star Ryan Kelly’s foot injury.
What little news it did release wasn’t good.
The 6-foot-10 senior is indefinitely and won’t be available for the Blue Devils on Saturday against N.C. State in a showdown of the ACC’s top two teams. Kelly, the league’s Player of the Week last week, aggravated a previous injury to his right foot during the first half of Tuesday’s 68-40 win against Clemson.
“We feel very badly for Ryan,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement. “He is playing the best basketball of his career and this is a tough setback for him. We’re hoping for a good recovery and we are optimistic about his return.”
Kelly originally injured the foot at the end of last season, forcing him to miss both the ACC and NCAA tournaments. He tweaked the same foot during the Christmas break this season, but had been playing through the pain until Tuesday.
X-rays taken after the game were inconclusive. Kelly had a CT scan done on Wednesday. Although the results were not announced, the decision was made to keep the Blue Devils’ co-captain out of action for now.
Robbi Pickeral (ESPN.com)
Bullock calls team meeting, looks to lead
By averaging 17.7 points over his past four games, North Carolina junior Reggie Bullock is turning into a leader on the court.
By calling a players-only meeting on Monday — the day after UNC lost at Virginia — the sometimes-too-unselfish wing showed he is trying to become a much-needed leader off the court as well.
“[The] coaches can tell us all the things they want to tell us, but it’s up to us to go out there and do the job they want us to do,’’ Bullock said Wednesday. “I just felt like it was my time to step up; me being a junior and being a vet and knowing what Coach wants, I just felt like I should be able to call that meeting.”
Bullock said there was no anger or frustration at the get-together, which occurred after watching film of the defeat in Charlottesville with the coaches: “It was just a lot of people letting a lot of things off their chest.”
He spoke. Senior Dexter Strickland spoke. Sophomore James Michael McAdoo spoke. The gist: That after losing three straight road games, falling out of the top 25, and failing to meet expectations, they must play better. Play smarter. Carry what they’ve learned from workouts into games.
While that’s all good, more important than the details of what went on in the meeting might have been the fact that the meeting was called at all.
Enter Bullock, the lone returning starter from last year’s NCAA Elite Eight team. As part of a recruiting class that including Kendall Marshall and Harrison Barnes (both first-round draft picks last summer), he said it was easy to stay in the background the past two years.
There, he was part of player-called team meetings that helped clear the air and lead to turnarounds; so, he said, he knew he was the right person to call this one. And that this was the right time.
“Overall, it’s a brotherhood, everybody likes each other,’’ Bullock said Wednesday. “But as a team, we just have to take those things we do in practice onto the court. I don’t think there’s no selfishness between nobody, I think we just have to tune in and buy in more when it comes to taking things from practice into games.”
Whether Monday’s players-only meeting works remains to be seen, beginning Thursday night when the Tar Heels play Miami at the Smith Center. And how Bullock continues to develop as a leader, both on and off the court, will be important to his team’s progression, as well.
Bret Strelow (FayObserver.com)
Jim Boeheim not looking forward to eating at Denny’s on trips to Clemson
With Syracuse leaving the Big East for the ACC next season, coach Jim Boeheim spoke about his visits to Providence, R.I., following his team’s 72-66 road victory against the Friars on Wednesday night.
The two schools were charter members of the Big East in 1979.
“We’ve been coming here for 34 years,” Boeheim told reporters. “That’s a lot of history. Every one of these games is a little bit of sadness for me. I know where all the good restaurants are now, and now I’ve got to go down to Clemson, S.C. I’m sure there’s a couple of Denny’s down there. They’ll like me a lot now in Clemson. I like to make friends before I get down there.”
Eamonn Brennan (ESPN.com)
Does the regular season matter? Of course
For the past 10 years, college basketball fans and college basketball businesspeople have been talking about how to “fix” the sport’s regular season. When the New York Times published a story (“A Five Month Season Boils Down to One”) in December, the issue got widespread notice (and the story some widespread criticism), but all I could think about was this Twitter account.
I only kid. Let’s be serious: The college hoops regular season does face major challenges. College football has never been more popular or more powerful. The same is true, almost doubly so, for the NFL. When the hoops season begins, it is said, many “casual” sports fans — I don’t know any, but apparently they exist — are too caught up with the read option and/or their fantasy football teams to notice. College basketball should start the season later, become a one-semester sport, play the NCAA tournament in May — as if CBS and Turner are just going to be totally cool with that.
But when we’re discussing this stuff, when we’re saying the season doesn’t “matter,” it’s important to make one very key distinction. We should clearly lay out what we’re talking about. Are we talking about the business of college basketball? Or are we actually talking about college basketball?
If you want to talk about the actual game — the game of basketball, played on hardwood courts between two teams representing Division I secondary education institutions — the simple fact is that in the sport’s 64-team modern era, the regular season has never mattered more. Why? Because the NCAA, seeing how quickly we were headed in this direction, made a very clear and crucial rules change years ago. It told its selection committee that every regular-season game would now matter in equal measure. Previously, it looked at a team’s final 12 games in February and March, and weighed those results more heavily than games in November and December. Now, however, every game matters the same. You can’t play horribly in November and expect to wash that stench off with a solid conference season. You’ve got to go out and beat some people.
Florida coach Billy Donovan gets it. This is what he told our own Andy Katz just this morning:
“What you do in November and December as a league, it just sticks with you for the rest of January, February and March,” said Donovan. “On Selection Sunday, they’re talking about games that happened on Nov. 18 five months ago. Maybe the team got better. But because of (the non-conference) the league gets put in a box. The only way you get out of it is get as many teams in the tournament and do something.”
Donovan might not like it, but he gets it.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, on the other hand, does not get it. This is what he told the NYT for its December story:
Short of gimmicks, college basketball could reward regular-season champions, not conference-tournament champions, with automatic N.C.A.A. tournament slots. Washington, for instance, won the Pac-12 last season but did not obtain an at-large tournament bid, a rarity for a major conference and, to those involved, an injustice.
“The decision to exclude Washington was a terrible statement and a signal that the regular season doesn’t matter,” Scott, the Pac-12 commissioner, said.
Seriously, that quote never gets old. It actually gets better every time I read it.
What Scott doesn’t seem to understand is that “Pac 12 season” does not equal “regular season.” What the Times failed to note in its story, but any college basketball fan would recognize, is that Washington wasn’t any good last year. The Huskies, like the rest of their league, beat no one in the nonconference — the Pac-12 went 1-29 against the RPI top 50 in nonconference play last season; 1-29! — and when the selection committee looked at their resume it didn’t care that the Huskies fell backwards into winning a bad league. And rightfully so! Every year, there are plenty of regular-season conference champions that don’t get at-large bids. Sometimes they lose in conference tournament play and don’t go to the tournament. So what? Don’t whine about it. Field better basketball teams. (Which, it should be noted, is exactly what the Pac-12 is doing this season.)
Oh, by the way: If the Pac-12 wants to make its regular-season champion the recipient of its at-large bid, like the Ivy League, it is well within its power to do so. It won’t do that, of course, because conference tournaments make a lot of money. But if Scott is so worried about the future of the “regular season,” he should convince his conference commissioners to take the fun out of the conference tournament. Good luck with that.
Jeff Borzello (CBSSports.com)
Video: Jamaal Franklin throws down dunk of the year
I know I’m supposed to be writing words right now that describe the dunk and how amazing it is, but the best I can do is this: .
That was my reaction when I first saw the dunk, and that was pretty much how I reacted the first several times I saw the replays as well. Speechless.
What San Diego State junior Jamaal Franklin did is not something that happens in a regular basketball game. It happens in all-star games, in pickup games (if you play pickup basketball with insanely good players) — and it happens in streetball games with a play-by-play announcer walking on the court during the game. And when it happens, the crowd normally rushes the floor. I don’t know how there were only the 10 players and three referees after Franklin landed.