Defending Wyatt

DAYTON, OH -- It's not often you hear a current player being compared to past guards such as John Bagley and World Free, but that is exactly who Mark Gottfried compares Temple guard Khalif Wyatt to.

"As we watched more and more of him on tape, you're trying to find that old-school guard that you can compare him to," said Gottfried prior to State's Thursday afternoon open practice. "We had a hard time. We were hunting for World Free or John Bagley or all these guys that were great players because he's a crafty guard.

"You've got to start with Khalif and how dangerous he is as a guard. He scores a lot of different ways. He gets to the foul line. He really knows how to play... we've got to do a good job with him."

Wyatt, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound guard out of Norristown, Pennsylvania, is the go-to guy for the Owls. He is averaging 19.8 points per game while shooting 41.3% from the field, 32.6% from deep, and 83.2% from the foul line.

Wyatt also leads Temple in assists (4.1 per game) and is second in steals, but his scoring is what makes the Owls go.

NC State is expected to start the game with point guard Lorenzo Brown defending Wyatt.

"Lorenzo isn't a big, thick, strong, heavy kind of guard, but he's very intelligent," said Gottfried. "He's got long arms. He's another guy that can find ways to get a deflection late in the game right when you need it or a steal.

"His size helps him, at 6'5". And he's had to guard some really good guards this year. We've played Marcus Smart at Oklahoma State and Trey Burke and Erick Green in our league and Shane Larkin. The list goes on and on of some awfully talented guards, and he's done a pretty good job against most of them."

"I think he's very crafty when he's dribbling the ball," said Brown. "He's one of the craftiest guys I've seen this year.

"My main goal when guarding him is to keep him out of the paint. I know he can shoot pretty well, but once he get in the paint, he can draw a foul or dish the ball to any of his players, and they're pretty good shooters."

NC State could also rotate reserve freshman guard Rodney Purvis on to Wyatt.

"From what I've seen, he's amazing," said Purvis. "I was up watching his mixtape late last night before I went to bed. He looks like he's moving slow, but the first guy is not enough. Help has to be there on time with a guy like Khalif Wyatt.

"In practice you have a guy on the scout team who is assigned to play like Wyatt, but it's really not him. You're preparing, but it's not going to be the real thing."

NC State has had success recently in defending teams with high-scoring guards in Joe Harris and Erick Green. But the difference in Temple and Virginia Tech and Virginia is the Owls, who average nearly 73 points per game, have four other scorers averaging 8.9 points per game or more.

"We're trying to focus on what [Wyatt] wants to do but also stop everyone else from getting hot," said T.J. Warren. "We have to contain him, but we know we can't let their other players put up points too."

"We have to make a defensive effort on every single play," added Purvis. "Once you get in the tournament, every guy can play. You have to guard every guy. It has to be a collective effort."

But, it all starts with Wyatt. He has five 30-point games this season including 33 in a win against Syracuse where he knocked down 15-of-15 from the free throw line.

"He's a big-time player," Richard Howell stated. "So Lorenzo can definitely do a great job on him, but at the same time, whenever we have the opportunity to, we're definitely going to help him.

"He's a big point guard, especially when he gets down in the paint, like Lorenzo says. So it's going to be a team effort against him."

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