Cat Barber saved the day and maybe the Wolfpack’s hopes for an NIT bid in March last night as he drained a step-back three pointer as time expired as part of his game-high 26 points against High Point in PNC Arena last night. Barber played all 40 minutes and dished out 6 assists while committing ZERO turnovers and grabbing 5 rebounds in State’s 76-73 win over High Point University.
NC State is now 7-3 with an RPI somewhere between #150 and #200 (not that it matters). The Wolfpack has a CRUCIAL game AT Missouri (5-4) on Saturday night. The Tigers’ four losses are at least against respectable teams…but, they lost by 36 points to Sean Miller and Arizona over the weekend.
Guess what — State played awful perimeter defense and didn’t take strategic advantage of our size advantage at almost every position on the court. Ever heard that one before?
In addition to Barber, Maverick Rowan and Malik Abdul Abu also provided some bright spots for Mark Gottfried’s Wolfpack. Rowan had a big second half including some clutch play in crunch time nailing an important 3-pointer and hitting two free throws as State was going down the path of a classic #WolfpackCollapse. After being sick and not expecting to play, Abu looked more like his old self scoring 13 points and grabbing 9 rebounds.
The following is a little more recap:
There were times in this one where it looked like NC State was going to run away with this one, but sharp shooting from the High Point guards and some feisty play down low from John Brown kept them in it. They actually had the ball with less than 25 seconds to play and the game tied at 73. They called a timeout, but the inbounds was stolen by Cody Martin…and that is where the fun began….
Martin was fouled going in for the winning layup, but turned his ankle as he was fouled. He wasn’t able to walk on it, so High Point was able to choose a shooter for the Wolfpack. They, of course, chose Anya (who is shooting an abysmal 34%). He missed both, but Rowan swooped in to grab the tipped rebound. After a timeout, State was doing their best to get it back to Mav. He was heavily guarded, so Cat was on his own. He went off a screen, collided with it, regained balance, and stepped back for a fade away 3 that hit nothing net. Game…NC State.
From the same URL provided above, the following is some macro-commentary I thought worth sharing:
While the offense could use some work, the defense is what is really holding this team back. Maybe it’s because it’s early season and the team isn’t as focused as they will be for ACC games, but that honestly should not be an excuse. This team has a defense problem. Now, before you go off and say I’m being a bit rough on this team, hear me out. This team should be absolutely shut-down on defense. They have the size, the length and the athleticism to absolutely stifle teams. So when we see a team like High Point shoot 43% and 50% from beyond the arc, it’s hard to not be disappointed. Recovery and communication on ball screens need major improvement. Closing out on shooters and staying on grounded on shot fakes need’s serious work. A ball screen and a pump fake should not be able to throw this defense into complete chaos, but all too often it happens to them. If they shoot over your contest, then fine, but the entire defensive system collapses when a guy comes off his feet on a pump fake, or is too slow to recover from a ball screen. They were able to out athlete High Point in this one and escape with a win, but with quality opponents coming down the pipeline, State needs to get their focus and discipline on the defensive end in check pretty fast.