Observations From The Game: Texas

NC State bounced back from a loss to Vanderbilt on Monday night, using a 28-2 run to top Texas by a 77-74 score at the Meadowlands.

Below is a look at the highlights and low-lights from the Pack's win over the Longhorns.

HIGHLIGHTS

28-2
When Julien Lewis hit a 3-pointer to put Texas up 62-47 with 12:06 left to play, NC State appeared done. Mark Gottfried called a 30-second timeout at that point, and whatever he said in that timeout, it worked.

The Pack scored on three straight possessions, then the nation's leading scorer, J'Covan Brown, fouled out for Texas and the wheels completely fell off for the Longhorns. They scored two points over the next eight minutes while the Pack was draining 3s, converting at the rim, and hitting its free throws.

By the time the dust settled the Pack had put together a 28-2 run and held a 75-67 lead. That turned out to be just enough, as Texas rallied late but the Pack defense held them down on the last possession of the game to give NC State its biggest win of the young season.

SECOND HALF DEFENSE
After allowing Texas to shoot nearly 58 percent in the first half, the Pack locked down on defense in the second half as the Longhorns made just 37 percent of its field goals to help get the Pack back in the game. The defense during the run was especially impressive, with Texas making just two field goals over the final 12 minutes of the game. The perimeter defense was also solid throughout the game as Texas hit just 5-of-16 from behind the arc.

WOOD, DE THAEY RETURN
After spending the first four games of the year juggling line-ups and dealing with suspensions, injuries and illnesses, Mark Gottfried finally had his whole team at his disposal on Monday night.

Thomas De Thaey was cleared to play after an investigation by the school into his amateur status and Scott Wood returned after missing the Vanderbilt game and most of the Princeton game with an ankle sprain.

De Thaey saw just two minutes of action on the night, but Wood was a key contributor in the second half and finished with 16 points in 27 minutes of action.

LOWLIGHTS

DEFENSIVE REBOUNDING
The Pack had been doing a good job of crashing the glass on both ends of the court until Monday night against the Longhorns. Whether it was the size and athleticism of Texas or something else entirely, the Pack's rebounding effort was its poorest to date. It allowed Texas to grab 11 of 28 misses while grabbing eight of its own 24 misses on offense.

Overall, Texas outrebounded State 32-28, a stat that the Wolfpack made up ground on late in the game.

The Pack will have to shore up its rebounding effort against this sort of competition in the future or it will lead to losses down the road.

J'COVAN BROWN'S BIG GAFF
Though it ended up being a big boost for the Pack, J'Covan Brown's technical foul with over eight minutes left in the game was one of the more boneheaded plays you'll see in college basketball this season. For a guy who is averaging 29 points a game and leading the nation in scoring, it's bad enough to pick up your fourth foul with so much time left in the game. It's an even worse decision to say something to the referee at that point – no matter what was said the fact that he spoke at all was the problem.

Hopefully Brown learns that the best thing to do in those situations is just shut your mouth and sit down.

PLAYER OF THE GAME
This was a game where the Pack had a lot of positive contributions from different guys, but Scott Wood provided just the sort of offensive lift the Pack needed in returning from injury.

The junior hit 3-of-8 from behind the arc and went a perfect 5-for-5 from behind the charity stripe. Two of his three long-range shots came during the Pack's comeback, and he also sank all five of his free throws during the run.

For a team desperately in need of a perimeter threat, Wood's return is a welcome sight.

STAT OF THE GAME
NC State attempted 44 field goal attempts and 44 free-throw attempts. Texas fouled early and fouled often, allowing the Pack to get to the line an absurd 44 times and even more importantly the Pack made 75 percent of those shots.

Yes they missed a few down the stretch that they'll need to make later in the year, but after hitting 59 percent of its free throws against Vanderbilt this was a marked improvement and making a few more at the charity striped proved to be the difference on Monday.

With aggressive offensive performers like C.J. Leslie, Richard Howell, and Lorenzo Brown, NC State should find its way to the free throw line a lot this season.

QUOTABLE
Scott Wood on the comeback:
"It speaks a lot about this team. We had every excuse to lay down, but we came back and that shows a lot of character."

MOVING FORWARD

Next up for the Pack is Elon, who they'll play in Reynolds Coliseum on Friday night. Elon is 3-1 on the year and will face Princeton, who the Pack beat 60-58, on Tuesday night before coming to Raleigh.

The Phoenix lost to the Pack last season at Greensboro Coliseum by a 87-72 score.


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