Observations From the Game: Pittsburgh

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Here are some thoughts and observations from NC State's 74-62 loss to Pittsburgh.

NC State led by eight at halftime, but Pittsburgh used tenacious defense and an attacking offense to bound back and knock off the Wolfpack, 74-62.

Pitt entered the game as one of the top rebounding teams in the league, holding a 10.4 rebound per game advantage on their opponents.

However, NC State more than held their own, as they finished the game with a +6 advantage on the glass (35-29). The Wolfpack were particularly good in the first half, holding the Panthers to just eight rebounds.

First Half Defense
Pitt really couldn't do much of anything in the first half against the Wolfpack's stifling defense. It's a big reason why NC State was able to just out to an early 17-2 lead.

The Panthers hit just 33.3% of their shots including 1-of-5 from 3-point range, and also had five turnovers with just five assists.

Desmond Lee did a really good job early on defending Pitt wing Lamar Patterson, who had just five points on 2-of-7 shooting from the field.

NC State was able to defend in the halfcourt, grab rebounds, and limit Pitt's transition game... basically everything they couldn't do in the final 20 minutes.

Energy... Effort
This may have been the first time all year where NC State appeared to not match the effort and energy level of their opponent. It was obvious in the second half when Pitt just took it to the Wolfpack.

NC State gave up multiple transition layups. They didn't dive on the ground for loose balls. They sulked after turnovers. There was very little communication on either end. All of that led to the Panthers outscoring the Wolfpack by 20 points in the second half.

"They have great enthusiasm and great energy," said Mark Gottfried. "We had great energy for the first 15 minutes of the first half but we came out in the second half and we were stunned.

"We looked around at each other and were staring at each other. We didn't have that same energy and enthusiasm. It is a tough lesson to learn."

Most may think it was just the second half, but NC State had problems all game taking care of the basketball.

The Wolfpack finished the game with 16 turnovers, and nine of them came in he opening 20 minutes. Frankly, that's why State's halftime lead of eight points wasn't larger.

A lot of it comes down to the play in the perimeter. In the first half, point guard Cat Barber had just one turnover with five assists. Even though the team had turnovers, he was distributing the basketball. In the second half he had just two assists with three turnovers. The Pack's guards and wings accounted for 13 of the 16 turnovers.

"We had a lot of crazy turnovers, miscommunications on the offensive end," said T.J. Warren. "We have to try to execute better in the half court, especially against the zone. It all starts with us."

Transition Defense
Not only was State turning it over... Pittsburgh made them pay for those and for not getting back all game.

The Panthers finished with 24 fastbreak points to just 11 for the Wolfpack. They also had a +11 advantage in points off turnovers (19:8). Add all that up and you can see why Pittsburgh was able to bounce back from a double-digit deficit and win convincingly.

"I thought we turned the ball over a lot in the second half," said Gottfried. "They turned those into fast breaks."

It wasn't his best game, but sophomore forward T.J. Warren paced the Wolfpack once again.

He finished with 23 points on 9-of-22 from the field. He hit 1-of-3 3-point attempts and all four of his free throws, and Warren also added eight rebounds, one assist, one block, and a steal.

The negative for Warren was he had his struggles in the second half. He hit just 3-of-10 shots in the final 20 minutes and grabbed only two rebounds.

"We've got to bounce back (for the next game at Notre Dame)," said Warren after the game. "We've got to play with energy. We've just got to play for each other."

29.6%. NC State hit just 29.6% of their shots in the second half while the Panthers shot a blistering 63% from the field. The Wolfpack missed some shots they'd normally make, but they also settled at times offensively instead of moving the ball for better attempts.

"Some of that was our offense and some of that was our whole approach to the second half," said Gottfried.

Mark Gottfried:
"Our young guys better learn at this level that if you do that you'll see the results that you saw today. It's real simple to me, we have to be a lot tougher than we were today."

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