Turnovers Down, Assists Up
NC State has had some struggles recently taking care of the basketball, but that wasn't the case on Saturday night.
The Wolfpack finished with just eight turnovers and totaled 17 assists, as they moved the ball for much of the game looking for good shots. That type of an assist/turnover ratio will likely end with a victory more often than not.
Leading the way was freshman point guard Cat Barber, who finished with six assists and just one turnover.
Washington Steps Up
NC State needs a frontcourt scorer to emerge and true freshman Kyle Washington certainly showed he could potentially be the guy going forward.
Washington was terrific in the second half, knocking down jump hooks and mid-range jumpers, whether they were contested or not. He didn't attempt a shot in the first half but hit 5-of-7 from the field in the final 20 minutes, when the Wolfpack needed him to do so.
"I played alright," said Washington. "I played pretty good. I have just got to keep doing that. If that is what it takes to give energy to my team and I am supposed to play like that every time, then that is the way I expect to play every time."
"I like the way Kyle stepped up as a freshman and made some big plays, showed some emotion, made some big shots," added Mark Gottfried.
Defending The Tigers
For much of the game, NC State completely locked up the Tigers. Missouri came in shooting nearly 50% from the field as a team, and the Wolfpack held them to just 40.4% shooting.
NC State did a really good job of defending Jordan Clarkson, Jabari Brown, and Earnest Ross. The trio lead the way for Missouri offensively, and the Pack held them to just 14-of-36 shooting (38.9%).
However, they each hit big shots late, particularly from deep. Brown's 3-pointer with 55 seconds left gave the Tigers a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
"They made, I thought, three big threes that really changed it," said Gottfried. "On one hand you have got to give them credit for that."
A lot has been made of the three's that Missouri made late, and rightfully so, but it can be said that they won the game on the offensive glass.
NC State did a poor job of securing defensive rebounds, particularly in the second half, and it proved critical. The Tigers grabbed 10 second-half offensive rebounds that led to 11 second-chance points.
Missouri had the same amount of offensive rebounds in the half that State had defensive rebounds.
We have got to do a better job," said Gottfried. "We have got to rebound the ball better. One of those defensive rebounds turned into a three-point basket for them."
Free Throw Shooting
NC State left points on the line, again, on Saturday.
The Pack hit just 8-of-14 free throws (57%), and freshman Cat Barber was just 2-of-6 from the line, including a front-end miss that could have tied the game (or given State the lead) in the final minute.
Missouri was +11 at the free throw line, and ultimately that proved to be a difference maker in the game.
Pack Cold From The Field
NC State entered the game as one of the top shooting teams in the country, but they struggled from the field against the Tigers.
The Wolfpack hit just 41% of their shots. T.J. Warren shot below 50% and point guards Cat Barber and Tyler Lewis combined to go 2-of-14. Wings Ralston Turner and and Desmond Lee weren't much better, as they hit just 6-of-16 shots.
Another problem was the inability to generate frontcourt scoring opportunities, outside of Washington. Jordan Vandenberg, BeeJay Anya, and Lennard Freeman combined to attempt just one shot, a Vandenberg dunk.
"We lost the game because they made shots and we didn't," said Vandenberg. "We slowly watched it happen."
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Sophomore forward T.J. Warren was on his game once again.
He finished with 24 points on 11-of-23 from the field. He hit just 1-of-7 3-point attempts, 1-of-2 free throws, and also added 13 rebounds, three assists, two steals, and two blocks.
STAT OF THE GAME
3. That is the number of shots T.J. Warren attempted after hitting a 3-pointer with 12:04 remaining in the game. That would be the last shot Warren would make, as he didn't score again.
The final shot Warren attempted came at the 5:50 mark when he missed a three-point attempt.
"We want T.J. more involved, although he is not our only option," said Gottfried. "Ralston made two big shots. Kyle made some big shots. But I do think we can do some things to make sure T.J. stays more involved.
"He got tired and I took him out at the four-minute mark. I don't think he was as aggressive."
"The first thing that comes to my mind is Missouri made some big-time plays at the right times of the game. That was the difference of the game."