Observations From the Game: UNC

Here are some thoughts and observations from NC State's 76-65 loss to North Carolina.

HIGHLIGHTS
Hitting The Glass

NC State came in looking to establish the paint and the backboard, and they most certainly did so on the glass. The Wolfpack finished the game with a +9 advantage on the boards (43-34), including a +4 total in offensive rebounding.

State had 14 offensive rebounds to just 10 for North Carolina, but the problem for the Wolfpack is they were only able to turn those 14 into seven points. UNC scored 15 points on their 10 offensive rebounds. That's a +8 scoring advantage despite having four fewer offensive rebounds.

Leading the way for State was Richard Howell and T.J. Warren. The duo combined for 27 total boards and 10 offensive rebounds. Junior power forward C.J. Leslie had only four in 30 minutes, but he did spend a lot of time on the perimeter defending P.J. Hairston. However, he should have been more involved on the offensive glass, where he grabbed just two rebounds.

Wood's Aggressiveness
At times during his career, Scott Wood has struggled with simply getting open for shots against North Carolina. However, he came out really aggressive to start the game and never looked back, letting shots fly whenever he had any sort of a clean look.

He had his best stretch midway through the second half when back-to-back three-pointers led to a 49-45 lead for the Wolfpack. However, he would go cold at that point, missing all three attempts he had the rest of the way.

Wood finished with 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting and 5-of-12 from 3-point range. Over his last five games he's averaging 15.4 points and is attempting 10 3-point shots per game.

The Wolfpack needs Wood to remain aggressive offensively. His effectiveness can open up the floor for others.

LOWLIGHTS
Leslie's Early Implosion

From the opening possession, C.J. Leslie had problems settling in for the Wolfpack.

The talented junior would have five turnovers in the games first's five minutes and never seemed to get in the flow. His miscues led to breakaway baskets for the Tar Heels, and seemed to give them some confidence while possibly zapping some of his and the rest of the Wolfpack.

Leslie finished the game with six points (3-of-8 FG, 0-4 FT), four rebounds, two assists, two steals, and six turnovers.

His play is shocking given how consistent he had been in recent games. Leslie was averaging 17.2 points and 10.1 rebounds while shooting 52% from the field over his previous seven.

Deviating From The Plan
C.J. Leslie was struggling, but after his post-up dunk on P.J. Hairston NC State led 55-52 with 8:10 remaining. This is where the game changed for the Wolfpack, and a big reason has to be their inability to get Leslie or Richard Howell more touches.

Over the final 8:10, Leslie and Howell would COMBINE to attempt only two shots, and they made both... two jumpers. On none of those possessions was NC State, a team that has consistently looked to pound the ball inside all season, able to get Howell or Leslie a touch in the paint.

UNC used a 19-4 run during that stretch to seize control of the game, with the four points coming from Leslie and Howell. How did the rest of the Wolfpack do? NC State was 0-for-6 from the field, 0-for-1 from the free throw line (Lorenzo Brown missed the front-end of a one-and-one), and had five turnovers (two by Brown, two by Warren, and one by Purvis).

As bad as C.J. Leslie had played, he did just have a post-up score. Richard Howell had been playing well. The inability to get them more shots certainly contributed to NC State's struggles offensively late in the game.

Defending Reggie Bullock
All week long the talk was about UNC inserting P.J. Hairston into the starting lineup, and Hairston was solid but hardly spectacular, finishing with 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting. However, Reggie Bullock proved to be the main weapon for the Tar Heels, and NC State was never able to really figure out how they wanted to defend Bullock.

Similar in a lot of ways to Scott Wood offensively, Bullock can run off screens and is a superb catch-and-shoot player, however, his effectiveness goes down when he has to put the ball on the floor because he hasn't proven to be a guy that can consistently make plays off the dribble.

NC State never seemed to forced him to do just that. Whoever was defending Bullock, and a lot of times it was T.J. Warren, would go under screens instead of chasing Bullock around screens, and it often gave him the clean look he needed to get his shot off. State wasn't always switching on picks either, so when double-screens were set for Bullock it was hard for Warren or Wood to get around them without any help.

Also, Bullock proved to be a terror for the Wolfpack on the glass. Constantly in motion, he darted in for rebounds all game, finishing with a team-high 13, including seven in the final 20 minutes. No one for State seemed to be able to box him out and it often led to extra possessions for UNC or ended offensive rebounding opportunities for the Wolfpack.

Bullock finished with a game-high 22 points on 7-of-16 shooting from the field. Like Wood, he hit 5-of-12 3-pointers, and also tallied 13 rebounds and three assists with no turnovers.

PLAYER OF THE GAME
NC State senior forward Richard Howell was simply a beast. His 17 rebounds were a game-high and his 12 defensive rebounds were more total boards than C.J. Leslie and James Michael McAdoo had combined.

He missed some offensive putbacks that he looked to have been fouled on, but still managed to knock down 6-of-12 shots and 1-of-2 free throws, finishing with 13 points, 17 rebounds, and a game-high three blocks with just one turnover in 38 minutes of action.

STAT OF THE GAME
Although it seemed like more, the box score had NC State officially with just four fastbreak points in the loss. One of the best transition teams in the country, NC State wasn't able to turn its rebounding advantage into any easy baskets, either in the fastbreak or second-chance points.

"They had a lot of guys back to stop our fastbreak," said Lorenzo Brown. "That slowed up our tempo, and we're a fastbreak team this year. They did a good job doing that."

QUOTE OF THE GAME
NC State Head Coach Mark Gottfried

"Richard gets 17 rebounds today. Are we expecting Richard to get 30 rebounds? Holy mackerel, somebody else has to rebound the ball. Calvin has to step up, period."

MOVING FORWARD
NC State (19-8, 8-6 ACC) returns to action Wednesday night at 8:00 pm against Boston College (12-15, 4-10 ACC) in PNC Arena. The Eagles are coming off a road loss at Duke, falling 89-68 to the Blue Devils.

The Wolfpack opened ACC play with a 78-73 victory over Boston College in Chestnut Hill.


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