Getting To The Line
Give NC State some credit, as poorly as they were shooting on Saturday afternoon they were at least able to get to the free-throw line with remarkably frequency. In the first half they managed to hit enough from the charity stripe to stay within shouting distance of the Seminoles despite hitting just 20 percent from the field.
Lorenzo Brown was especially aggressive at attacking the basket for the Pack despite the presence of big men like Bernard James and Xavier Gibson guarding the rim. They managed to get Gibson and guard Deividas Dulkys in foul trouble, but Florida State's depth and a double-digit margin over most of the second half kept those fouls from having a major impact on the game.
One stat that perfectly captivated the Pack's shooting woes in the game was this – players not named CJ Leslie went 1-for-22 from the field in the first half. That's less than five percent shooting from the floor. Six players went ice cold simultaneously in the first half and really never heated up, though as you might expect they did manage to beat out their first-half performance.
The problem wasn't even the outside shooting; it was everything happening inside the 3-point line. Yes the Pack only hit 25 percent of its 3s, but it also hit just 30 percent of its 2-pointers against the Seminole defense. It was, by a considerable margin, the worst shooting night the Pack has had all season. At the end of the day, the Pack would have been better off simply jacking up 3-pointers all night.
Florida State seems to have an unending bench of big, strong and athletic big men and on Saturday afternoon the Pack had no answer for them. The Seminoles big men cut off any interior scoring, essentially making the paint off limits to the Pack for 40 minutes.
While the Pack got plenty of offensive rebounds, pulling down 40 percent of their own misses, they often tried to go right back into the teeth of the ‘Noles defense with very little success. The Seminoles out-scored the Pack in the paint by a 36-18 margin, blocked nine shots and held Richard Howell to a 1-for-6 performance from the field.
The Inability to Make a Run
The embarrassment that was Karl Hess' performance on Saturday has been discussed plenty, but the incident itself actually gave the Pack its best chance at a run all day. Scott Wood hit three consecutive free throws, and then drained his only field goal of the day when he hit a 3 to cut the lead to 12 points with six minutes remaining. But the run ended there as Ian Miller scored five of the Seminoles next seven points and the visiting team pushed the lead back up to 17 by the under-four timeout. Duke gave the Pack a lesson on how to capitalize on momentum and crowd energy on Thursday night, but the Pack couldn't echo the performance on Saturday.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
At times it appeared that C.J. Leslie was the only person on the floor for the Pack who could hit a shot. The sophomore forward went 5-of-9 in the first half, the only player to make more than a single field goal. He finished 8-for-14 from the field and 5-for-6 from the line, scoring 21 points and grabbing nine rebounds for the Pack. He also led the team in turnovers with five, but as the only person on the floor who could do anything offensively, that seems like a small price to pay.
"Teams that get to play in March are good enough to withstand most things and fight through things. We're not there, we have to get there."