Observations From The Game: Indiana

Despite a good effort and the support of a packed house at the RBC Center, NC State fell to Indiana 86-75 Wednesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

The loss, State's second of the season, came after the Wolfpack held a 7-point lead with 7:48 left in the game.

Below is a look at some of the highlights, and low-lights, from the Pack's second loss of the 2011-2012 season.


After fighting inconsistency for much of the Sidney Lowe era, NC State's play in the first seven games of the Mark Gottfried era has been markedly different.

State has rebounded better, played better defense in stretches and done more of the little things that are the difference between winning and losing. That continued Wednesday night, as the Wolfpack battled all night against an undefeated Indiana team that came into the RBC Center confident and playing well.

The effort was something players and coaches mentioned in the post-game, and it's something NC State -- a team with little margin for error -- will have to continue to hang its hat on this season.

Even against a big, talented Indiana squad that featured freshman Cody Zeller (the younger brother of North Carolina senior Tyler Zeller) and junior Christan Watford, NC State more than held its own on the glass Wednesday night.

After building a 22-13 lead on the boards by halftime, the Wolfpack continued that strong play early in the second half as they build a 63-56 lead. C.J. Leslie, Richard Howell, Deshawn Painter and Lorenzo Brown combined for 29 of NC State's 40 rebounds on the night, with Leslie leading the way (11).

Indiana closed the gap late in the game due to some missed NC State shots in the final two minutes, but the Pack still finished plus-3 on the night, out-rebounding the Hoosiers 40-37.

Although NC State struggled late in the game to shut down Indiana's attack, the Wolfpack did play well defensively at times, especially at the rim. State tallied 10 blocks on the night, led by C.J. Leslie's three. DeShawn Painter, Lorenzo Brown, Scott Wood and C.J. Williams also got in on the block party, helping turn away several shots in the paint on the night.

State also tallied 7 steals, bringing its season total to 52 in the first seven games. Lorenzo Brown, who leads the team with 21 steals on the season, has been especially adept at getting his hands in the passing lanes. It's a sign of more active defense and had led to more chances for the Wolfpack to get out in transition and get some easy looks at the basket.


After a slow start that allowed Indiana to build as much as an 11-point lead in the first half, NC State rebounded well to take a 42-41lead the break. That solid play continued for the first two thirds of the second half, as the Pack built a 63-56 edge with 7:48 to play.

Over the next four minutes, however, NC State could do little right as Indiana stormed back to take a 71-68 lead on a Christian Watford three-pointer. The Wolfpack missed two five free throws and two layups during the stretch, but also compounded things by letting Indiana get good looks at the basket. By the time Watford's three-pointer went through the net, Indiana had hit its stride. The Hoosiers scored five more points before the Wolfpack hit a shot, turning a 63-56 hole into a 76-70 lead in less than five minutes.

In the midst of NC State's tough stretch in the second half, perhaps the mot memorable moment was a questionable intentional foul call on Scott Wood with 2:55 to play in the game. The foul, which came after a Victor Oladipo steal, was one that NC State head coach Mark Gottfried didn't agree with.

"I don't agree with the call," Gottfried said. "You always have to be careful with what you say but I thought Scott pretty clearly went after the basketball."

Gottfried was quick to point out that Wood's foul didn't lose the game for the Pack, but it was a key swing in the game-defining run. Oladipo hit one of his two free throws to puts Indiana up 74-70 and and two seconds later Jordan Hulls hits two more free throws to put the Hoosiers up six with 2:53 left.

Once again, Lorenzo Brown filled up the stat sheet for NC State, scoring 19 points, pulling down six rebounds, dishing out five assists and picking up a block and steal in 35 minutes. He got to the basket numerous times in the early part of the second half as NC State built its biggest lead of the night.

If NC State becomes a top half of the ACC team that can potentially contend for an NCAA Tournament berth, Brown is the guy that will take them there.

C.J. Leslie also had another strong performance, notching a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. He also had three blocks in his 33 minutes off the bench.

There were several important statistics to consider following NC State's loss (late-game free throw percentages, rebounding, three-point shooting), but the most important numbers on this night happened in the final eight minutes of the game.

During that stretch, Indiana went on a 30-12 run that completely turned the game from one that NC State had to feel good about that the Wolfpack felt like they let get away. The crucial portion of the 30-12 run came in a five-minute stretch that began with 7:48 to play. The Hoosiers ripped off a 20-7 spurt, scoring on five straight possessions at one point.

During that same stretch, NC State could do little right. The Wolfpack missed five free throws and two layups during the same five minutes, letting a winnable game slip away.

Another key was Indiana's efficient shooting from behind the arc. The Hoosiers finished 7 of 13 (53.8%) on the night while the Wolfpack mustered a 3 of 10 effort, with Scott Wood knocking down all three of those shots.


Mark Gottfried on the RBC Center crowd:
"It was phenomenal, our fans were great. I wish we would have been able to deliver for them, because their enthusiasm was terrific and our players fed off that. Hopefully, we'll have a lot of nights like that, and even though we disappointed them with the loss they'll see that our guys are going to compete hard and keep improving."

NC State will get a bit of a break before heading west to face Stanford in Palo Alto, California Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. Stanford (6-1) has played well early in the season, beating Oklahoma State 82-67 in Madison Square Garden and losing a close game to No. 5 Syracuse, 69-63. The Cardinal take on Seattle Thursday night before NC State comes to town over the weekend.

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