Tuesday night’s loss at home to rival UNC exposed a couple of weaknesses in the 15th-ranked NC State Wolfpack. On Saturday, at least one of those afflictions threatened to rear its ugly head.
Despite being one of the hottest shooting teams in the nation, the Wolfpack suffered droughts throughout the loss to UNC and had a stretch where they were 3-23 in the second half of today’s 86-80 win over the Pittsburgh Panthers. However, the Wolfpack came to life and scored on their last 12 possessions.
The difference? Head Coach Kevin Keatts says that simply got better looks after “standing around against the zone.” After being heavily outrebounded against the Tarheels, the Pack were big on the boards, pulling down 44 rebounds in comparison to the Panthers’ 34. 21 of those were offensive rebounds that often resulted in second-chance points and free throws.
The Pack lost starter Wyatt Walker early in the game after he was ejected for a Flagrant 1. Keatts said that he had not reviewed the film yet so he no immediate postgame comment on the matter. In addition to being without Walker, the Pack also had to play without starting point guard Markell Johnson who did not return after being injured in the first half.
Both teams sustained second-half droughts; as mentioned, NC State had a stretch where they went 3-23 after shooting over 50% in the first half. NC State was led by 19 points from Devon Daniels. DJ Funderburk added 12 of his 18 points in the second half. Guard Eric Lockett added 17 points, including two back-to-back 3-point buckets late in the game. Torin Dorn did not have the best shooting day but had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Pitt was led by freshman guard Xavier Johnson who finished with 25 points. Au’Diese Toney added 17 points for the Panthers who drop to 11-5. The Wolfpack improves to 14-2.