Alright, domination might be a bit of a strong word, but surprisingly, NC State's effort on the glass against a much bigger Georgetown team was the difference in the game. The Wolfpack won the rebounding battle 41-33 and pulled down 17 offensive rebounds on 34 misses shots, good for 50 percent. Richard Howell, DeShawn Painter and C.J. Leslie combined to grab 12 of those 15, allowing the Wolfpack to get 15 second-chance points.
NC State was equally impressive on the defensive end, allowing the Hoyas -- who played six players Sunday 6-foot-8 or taller -- to tally only six offensive rebounds. Howell, Leslie, Painter and Lorenzo Brown led the way, securing 16 of the Wolfpack's 18 defensive rebounds. While some would argue that Georgetown's offensive approach is the reason for that, it was clear at times that NC State really battled to secure defensive rebounds.
Wood And Williams Respond
After struggling in recent games, C.J. Williams and Scott Wood finally broke out Sunday, combining for 28 points on 9 of 18 shooting. The duo also managed to go 6 of 10 from 3-point range, providing key baskets on numerous occasions. Early in the second half, Wood and Williams hit back-to-back shots from deep to help the Wolfpack build a 40-32 lead heading into the first media timeout.
Late in the game, two 3-point shots from Wood helped NC State keep Georgetown at arm's length. The first came after the under-12 media timeout, when Wood pushed NC State's lead to 50-44 immediately following a Markel Starks jumper that had made it a one-possession game. The second came five minutes later when Wood pushed State's lead to 57-50.
It's been said many different ways, but the message with Williams and Wood is clear -- NC State is a completely different team when they can score efficiently. With the Wolfpack bigs struggling Sunday against the Hoyas, it was the difference in the game.
Finishing A Close One
It took 36 games, but the Wolfpack finally finished off a win over a very tough opponent Sunday afternoon in Columbus. Aside from advancing NC State into the Sweet 16 for the first time in seven years, Sunday's win provides a perfect example of a team that continues to grow throughout a season. It's a credit to Mark Gottfried and his staff, certainly, but it's also a credit to the players on the court.
Moving forward, the confidence that Sunday's win is sure to generate could be very important. The Wolfpack were able to erase a 10-point first-half deficit against a very good Georgetown squad and win a game late with clutch plays. That matters, and it will be important against whoever NC State plays in the Sweet 16 and potentially beyond.
Free Throw Shooting
Free throw shooting has been crucial in almost every game for the Wolfpack in the last three weeks, and it was big again Sunday against the Hoyas. NC State finished 19 of 31 from the charity stripe, just 61 percent. Aside from Lorenzo Brown's three clutch makes in the final 10 seconds (he missed one that could have made Jason Clark's 3-point heave at the buzzer an afterthought), the Wolfpack struggled mightily throughout the game.
Poor shooting from the line didn't cost NC State the game against the third-seeded Hoyas, but if it continues to be a problem moving forward, expect it to cost the Wolfpack a chance to win against Kansas or Purdue. Expect Mark Gottfried and company to harp on that in the next four days.
Struggles Around The Rim
It wasn't unexpected, but NC State's post players had big-time issues finishing at the rim against Georgetown's lengthy front line. Two days after exhibiting almost perfect offensive efficiency against San Diego State, Richard Howell, C.J. Leslie and DeShawn Painter combined to shoot just 8 of 25 from the floor and score 26 points. Some of those issues were self-induced, as Leslie and Howell in particular did a poor job at times understanding their position in the post and passing the ball back out to the perimeter.
The Wolfpack front court made up for that by crashing the offensive boards and getting second-chance opportunities, but it's a wonder State was able to have as much success as it did against the Hoyas.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
With 12 points, seven assists and six rebounds, sophomore point guard Lorenzo Brown gets the nod for player of the game Sunday. And while his clutch free throws in the final 10 seconds are what should be discussed most, his over-the-backboard tear drop with 2:15 left was the defining moment in the Wolfpack's win.
The shot pushed NC State's lead to seven points and forced Georgetown to start fouling inside two minutes.
STAT OF THE GAME
It was discussed earlier, but NC State's phenomenal effort on the offensive glass is worth talking about again. The 15 second-chance points were the difference in a game that NC State shot just 20 of 54 from the field. Given Georgetown's decided height advantage, the numbers are even more impressive.
The Wolfpack will head to St. Louis Friday for a Sweet 16 matchup against the Kansas-Purdue winner.