Brett Friedlander (starnewsonline.com)
Wolfpack still learning to play with a bullseye on its back
If last week’s win against Duke was a celebration for the N.C. State basketball team, then the two games that followed it have been an education.
So what’s the lesson the Wolfpack has learned from Wednesday’s one-point loss at Maryland and Sunday’s closer-than-it-should-have-been 66-62 win against Clemson?
Here’s Richard Howell with the answer:
“We’ve got to bring it every night,” said the senior center, whose dunk and three-point play in the final 2:41 helped hold off the gritty Tigers. “I feel like every time we go somewhere the team is getting up to play us. We need to start expecting that so we don’t come out like we did against Maryland and Oklahoma State and lose games like that.”
“We’re just going through a little slump right now, but coach has got us,” point guard Lorenzo Brown said. “He’ll get us straightened out. We should do well next game and get back on our feet.”
That confidence is more than just wishful thinking. If ever there was a place and opponent ripe for State to emerge from its post-Duke doldrums, it’s Wake Forest at Joel Coliseum.
The Wolfpack beat the Deacons by a combined total of 47 points in two games last season, including a 76-40 blowout in Winston-Salem.
While it’s doubtful State will be able to match that level of dominance when it returns on Tuesday, even if it plays its absolute best, the opportunity is clearly there for Gottfried’s team to pick up the pace and get itself running again.
So long as it learns to live with that bullseye on its back and remembers the lessons learned from these past two games.
Akula Wolf (BackingthePack.com)
NC State Fends Off Clemson, 66-62
There was no real cause for alarm at that point. But State went cold in the second half, shooting just 38% (eFG) over the final 20 minutes. Clemson, meanwhile, heated up and hit nearly 59% from the field. Thus the teams eventually found themselves tied at 57 with two minutes and change remaining.
There were two big keys for NC State in the second half given the shooting disparity: 1) the Pack limited Clemson to a 20% offensive rebounding rate; 2) NC State did not commit a single turnover. If NC State doesn’t do those two things, Devin Booker’s fantastic performance might just be enough to lead the Tigers to an upset win.
Joe Giglio (N&O)
N.C. State holds off Clemson 66-62
Lorenzo Brown’s mood matched his black jersey on Sunday.
Yes, N.C. State did end up beating Clemson 66-62 with a late surge from senior Richard Howell and free throws by senior Scott Wood.
Still, Brown said, there was something amiss even in victory.
“We didn’t play our best, I’m not very excited about that,” Brown said. “I mean, who would (be)?”
Brown finished with a respectable final line — six points, seven rebounds and five assists — but it wasn’t enough.
“It’s always about a win, but at the same time, we can do better than that,” Brown said.
N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried, who turned 49 on Sunday, bottom-lined the win.
“Part of being in a league like this, you have to grind some out,” Gottfried said. “It’s not always going to be glamorous, you just got to find a way to keep winning.”
N.C. State had led by nine early in the second half, with freshman forward T.J. Warren (21 points) as its main source of offense.
But Brown, forward C.J. Leslie (six points) and Wood (11) couldn’t quite find a rhythm against Clemson’s defense. The Pack scored a season-low 50 points in Wednesday’s loss at Maryland.
Brown called it a slump, but Gottfried was more philosophical.
“It’s hard to stay at a high, high level offensively all the time, every night,” Gottfried said. “On those nights, you’ve got to find a way to win.”
Caulton Tudor (N&O)
Wolfpack needs freshmen to keep playing big
If N.C. State’s basketball team is going to have a special February and March, the team’s freshmen will need to contribute a lot more than was the case in a 51-50 loss at Maryland last week.
In that vein, Sunday’s 66-62 escape against Clemson in the PNC Center was an encouraging development for the 14th-ranked Wolfpack.
Coming off the bewildering offensive performance at Maryland and already zeroing in on upcoming games at Wake Forest (Tuesday) and against North Carolina (Saturday), the Wolfpack (15-3, 4-1 ACC) was in a potentially dangerous situation against the Tigers (10-7, 2-3).
And had it not been for rookies T.J. Warren, with 21 points and six rebounds off the bench, and Rodney Purvis (11 points, nine in the first half), the Wolfpack would have taken a second straight hit –and on coach Mark Gottfried’s 49th birthday at that.
Warren, who did not score and missed all six field-goal attempts at Maryland, said he spent a lot of time Thursday, Friday and Saturday working on his shot.
“If I’d made one shot, we would have won at Maryland. Just two points,” the 6-foot-8 second-generation Wolfpack wing player said.
“I know I have to get more consistent. We (freshmen) know what we have to do. We’ll get better.”
Stephen Schramm (FayObserver.com)
N.C. State survives an off night to beat Clemson
Make no mistake, things weren’t all that great for N.C. State against Clemson on Sunday night.
Lorenzo Brown had a season-low six points. Teammate C.J. Leslie had the same amount.
A cold had Wolfpack center Richard Howell feeling like he might pass out while running up and down the PNC Arena floor.
Meanwhile, Clemson’s Devin Booker spent most of the evening looking unstopp- able.
But the Wolfpack walked off the floor with a 66-62 win, avoiding what would have been a second-straight loss and a setback against one of the league’s less-threatening teams.
For No. 14 N.C. State (15-3 overall, 4-1 ACC), it wasn’t fun. But the Wolfpack will take it.
“I feel like I got away with a win,” N.C. State guard Scott Wood said. “It wasn’t pretty. You’re going to have games like that in the ACC.”
N.C. State knew it had one of those nights. You know, the kind where it seems as if the stars are aligned against you.
Stephen Schramm (FayObserver.com)
Freshman shakes off rough outing to torch Tigers
“The shots were definitely not going down, (I was) kind of frustrated,” Warren said. “Luckily I was able to bounce back today. So that was good.”
Warren’s redemption came in the form of a 21-point night against the Tigers. He hit 9-of-11 shots and grabbed six rebounds.
“Sometimes when you’re a freshman, you go through big games and then you struggle, you’re up and down a little bit,” Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried said. “That’s not uncommon.”
Jacey Zembal (TheWolfpacker.com)
Pack grinds out win over Clemson
NC State senior small forward Scott Wood and junior point guard Lorenzo Brown weren’t worried about the statistics or if the Wolfpack played pretty.
The veteran duo have been around long enough and played in enough close games to know that he only worries about the final outcome in ACC action.
Clemson put itself in position to pull off a victory against No. 14 NC State, but the Wolfpack made enough plays and free throws down the stretch to pull out the 66-62 victory Sunday in front of a sold out crowd at PNC Arena.
“I could really care less how many points I have or could really care less how many points someone else has,” Wood said. “If I’m on top, that’s all that matters.”
Brown called the Wolfpack’s combined loss to Maryland on Wednesday, and follow-up win over Clemson part of a mini-slump.
“We got the W, so that’s all that matters,” Brown said. “Coach [Mark Gottfried] will get it straightened out. We should do well next game.”
Andrew Jones (FoxSportsCarolinas.com)
Warren, No. 14 N.C. State edge Clemson
But once Warren stepped onto the PNC Arena floor, it was almost immediately apparent he was a different player than in the previous point-less performances. He nailed a jumper while drawing a foul and converted the free throw for a conventional three-point play with 7:27 left before halftime. He hit a 3-pointer a minute later, had a tip-in 45 seconds after that and scored on a layup for his 10th point with 4:30 left in the half.
Warren put 10 points on the board just like that.
The explosiveness NC State has lacked coming off the bench arrived at a time when the Wolfpack was in need in its 66-62 victory. With leading scorers C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown netting just six points apiece and Scott Wood converting only two field goals, Warren’s 21 points may have been the difference between victory and defeat for the Wolfpack, who improved to 15-3 overall and 4-1 in the ACC.
“He makes those mid-range shots that are hard to make,” said Clemson coach Brad Brownell. “Eight-foot banks; 12-footer on the baseline. He’s just an opportunistic guy. He got an offensive rebound late when it was an important basket. He’s really good.”
As noted, Warren’s offensive array was quite impressive, and how he goes about it is, too. Fundamentally sound, especially for a freshmen, Warren properly squares to the basket when he must, uses the glass (as Brownell noted) and he possesses the natural gift of terrific fingertips.
Neil Morris (IndyWeek.com)
N.C. State (finally) holds that Tiger for 66-62 win over Clemson
The knock all season on No. 14 N.C. State has been their inability/unwillingness to play as well to start games and they do to finish them. The Wolfpack sought to change that Sunday evening against Clemson, breaking out their black kits for the first time this season and jumping out to an 8-point lead over the opening five minutes, a margin they would hold into halftime. N.C. State, the third-best shooting team in the nation, converted 53.8 percent of their field goals during the opening stanza, led by T.J. Warren’s 14 bench points.
However, the Wolfpack was held to only 33 percent shooting in the second half, and the score was tied with 3:30 left in the game and again with 2 minutes remaining. A 3-point play by Richard Howell and five late free throws by Scott Wood enabled N.C. State (15-3, 4-1 ACC) to hold on for a 66-62 win over the Tigers (10-7, 2-3 ACC).
Bryan Kilpatrick (SBNation.com)
NC State’s crowd scares Clemson into losing
The NC State Wolfpack held off a furious rally from the Clemson Tigers on Sunday, notching a hard-fought 66-62 win.
While some credit should go to the Wolfpack players, particularly T.J. Warren, who scored 21 points off the bench, it’s clear to anyone who watched the game that the biggest reason NC State pulled out the win is because the team’s unbelievably creepy fans probably scared the ever-loving crap out of Clemson’s players.
Not shown here is the guy in the mullet wig and red-and-white-striped overalls getting noticeably pervy with ESPNU’s sideline reporter, who was interviewing the NC State fan who took a tumble while rushing the court in a wheelchair last weekend.
With that group of fans, NC State clearly has the best home-court advantage in college basketball. I’d hate to see what happens to anyone who disagrees.
anthony lenahan (RantSports.com)
No. 14 North Carolina State Survives Against Clemson as Offense Struggles
As a team that averages above 80 points a game, the Wolfpack have been unable to reach that mark lately. Only putting up 66 points tonight, the Wolfpack’s lack of offense may be a cause for concern.
With so much talent on their team and so many scoring options, it’s amazing how they can’t put up their season average night in and night out.
North Carolina State shot 50% from 3-point range, but only managed to shoot 45% from the field. They are knocking down shots, but they don’t seem to be getting enough shot attempts on offense that would allow them to put up more points.
Michael Roberts (RantSports.com)
North Carolina State Wolfpack Bounce Back From Loss With Ugly Win Over Clemson
Brown finished with six points, seven rebounds, five assists, two steals and three turnovers, however, his stat line doesn’t show his true performance . The junior guard is one of the best point guards in the nation, but every game has a moment or two that leaves you scratching your head. Brown is capable of controlling a game on his own, given all the different ways he can contribute, but his decision making is questionable at times.
One moment he plays too quick and rushes a pass that leads to a turnover, then the next he’s stolen the ball back on his own and dished out a pass for an assist. Brown plays at a fast pace which is no doubt one of his strengths. However, he’s too prone to forcing a pass into a small window of opportunity with minimal chance of success. If he can learn to dial it back a notch and remove those brain cramp errors, there would be little debate as to who the best point guard is in the country.
Another factor that plagued the Wolfpack in this contest was C.J. Leslie’s lack of field goal attempts. He finished with only six points after shooting only seven attempts from the floor, three fewer than his season average. That is unacceptable for one of the most talented players in the country. For N.C. State to be successful they need to put the ball into Leslie’s hands. Instead the team is putting more focus on forcing up three-pointers than using their advantage in the post with Leslie and Howell. That is something that must change or poor performances like the one against Maryland will be duplicated in a hurry. It nearly was with the Wolfpack hosting Clemson.
N.C. State has the most talent at every position than any other team in the conference but they are still struggling to get everybody involved. They’ve seen multiple game-by-game scoring leaders, but that will only spell trouble come March. Leslie needs to be the main guy on offense for the Wolfpack to have success this season and for the past two games he’s finished third on the team in field goal attempts.
It’s hard for a team with championship aspirations to achieve their goals when two players are shooting more than the team’s most talented player.
Tigers Fall to the Pack, 66-62
Tonight was brutal. A 10-0 run to start the game doesn’t breed much confidence, especially when the opposition goes 3 for 3 from the arc in the first 5 minutes. To be fair, it took a lot for this team to fight back and tie the game with 3 minutes left. But in the end, the Tigers couldn’t take care of the ball or foul the right players, and lost 66-62.
So what did we learn? I think one major positive is that Devin Booker may be turning a huge corner. We’ve asked for consistency and leadership from somebody, anybody, and Booker has led the team in all five games of conference play so far. He may not lead vocally, but he’s let his play speak volumes. Unfortunately, it seems that for every good thing Booker is doing for this team, the other senior in this group either can’t catch a break or just doesn’t understand what it takes to compete and succeed (all the evidence pointing to the latter).
Clemson vs NC State Box Score
Gottfried: They’re not all going to be glamorous
N.C. State Head Coach Mark Gottfried said it might not have been pretty, but when it comes to the ACC, a league win is all that matters.
Howell: I felt like I was going to pass out
N.C. State forward Richard Howell says he was under the weather on Sunday when he collected 12 rebounds and 11 points against Clemson.
Wood: They’re gonna knock some teams off
N.C. State sharpshooter Scott Wood thinks the Wolfpack’s opponent on Sunday, Clemson, will upset a few teams in the league before season’s end.
Warren: We just want to contribute
N.C. State freshman forward T.J. Warren says if he and Rodney Purvis can make regular contributions like they did against Clemson on Sunday, the Wolfpack will be tough to beat.