Observations From the Game: Wake Forest

Here are some final thoughts and observations from NC State's 70-69 loss at Wake Forest.

Here are some thoughts and observations from NC State's 70-69 loss at Wake Forest. T.J. Warren led the way for the Wolfpack with 22 points and four rebounds.

First Half Offense
Playing against Wake's man-to-man defense for much of the first half, the Wolfpack jumped out to an eight-point halftime lead after shooting 51.6% from the field.

They were able to work for good shots and finish, scoring on 22-of-33 possessions while hitting 16-of-31 shots. If there was an issue it came at the free throw line, where NC State hit just 9-of-14 in the first half.

The biggest key was State's ability to get scoring opportunities around the rim. 24 points came in the paint with T.J. Warren and Jordan Vandenberg leading the way.

Rebounding/Second Chance Points
When the Wolfpack did miss shots they were often in a position to get an offensive rebounds, especially in the first half. They used the size advantage to grab 10 offensive rebounds that led to 17 second-chance points prior to halftime.

Overall, the Wolfpack finished with 23 second-chance points to just four for Wake Forest. The concerning part is that State had just seven in the second half, but they did finish with 14 offensive rebounds and a +9 overall advantage on the glass.

Handling Adversity
This had to be a difficult game, for both teams, to play in. Multiple guys were in foul trouble throughout and really the only thing consistent about the officiating was that something was always about to be called.

NC Sate did a great job of competing and remaining in the contest. There were multiple times they could have folded, especially when Warren fouled out in the final minutes. However, after squandering a lead they were able to fight their way back and even take the lead with just over 10 seconds remaining.

"I'm really proud of my team," said Gottfried. "We had to overcome a lot, we were in some bad foul trouble, but I thought our guys played with a lot of courage, they competed and we put ourselves in a position to win."

Zone Offense
NC State's offensive efficiency came to a halt when Wake switched to their 2-3 zone late in the first half.

The Wolfpack hit just 7-of-24 shots in the final 20 minutes (29.2%), including 0-of-9 from 3-point range (after hitting 2-of-4 in the first half).

Guards Cat Barber and Ralston Turner attempted 14 of the 24 shots, and hit just three, which shows just how perimeter-oriented the Wolfpack became against the zone.

"The zone defense I think threw us a little bit but we should be used to it," said center Jordan Vandenberg. "We work on our zone offense every day we just didn't find our rhythm."

Shot Selection
Mark Gottfried stated after the game that he felt like his team had good looks during the second half shooting slump.

"I thought it wasn't bad," he said of his zone offense. "We had some good looks. Ralston Turner had some good looks, great shots that you want him to take.

"We could have got the ball inside a little more against the zone and moved it a little better, but we were getting some pretty good shots at the end of whatever we ran."

With that being said, they likely could have taken better shots. Coaches often say that sometimes you pass on a good shot to take a great shot, and NC State didn't seem to do that. They took perimeter jumpers early in the shotclock instead of rotating the ball and moving against Wake's zone, forcing them to defend for long stretches.

Also, the quick shots helped Wake Forest on the glass because the lack of rotation kept defenders in their zones, which is why the Pack had just four second-half offensive rebounds after grabbing 10 in the first half.

The shot selection wasn't the greatest. Yes, they were getting good looks from the perimeter, but NC State had a size advantage in the post and with the way the game was being officiated it made much more sense to attack the rim instead of settling for jumpers.

You won't win many games when you allow your opponent to shoot 54% from the field.

Now, Wake did hit a lot of shots, especially early, but State had issues with Wake's ball screen offense and also finding shooters in transition. Add in Devin Thomas being able to score on the block, and it's easy to see why State struggled.

What hurt the most may have been the fouling. NC State sent Wake Forest to the line 39 times, with reserve forward Arnaud Adala Moto leading the way as he hit 11-of-14 free throws (including 8-of-10 in the second half). Those points were critical to the Deacs overcoming an eight-point second half deficit.

PACK +/-
+/- is essentially the points scored by a team minus the points allowed by a team while a certain player is on the floor.

So, as you can see below, Lennard Freeman had a +/- of +11. That means NC State outscored Wake Forest by 11 points with Freeman on the floor. Kyle Washington was -16... State was outscored by 16 points when Washington was on the floor.

Lennard Freeman: +11
Tyler Lewis: +8
Ralston Turner: +6
BeeJay Anya: +2
T.J. Warren: +1
Jordan Vandenberg: -1
Desmond Lee: -7
Cat Barber: -9 Kyle Washington: -16

Sophomore wing T.J. Warren bounced back from a couple of subpar outings to score a game-high 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting from the field. He hit 6-of-10 free throws and also totaled four rebounds.

NC State finished the game with just eight assists on 23 made field goals. The Wolfpack also tallied 11 turnovers.

NC State is 1-4 this season when they have less than 10 assists in a game, and are 1-5 when they have more turnovers than assists.

Mark Gottfried:
"Not only T.J., we all were in foul trouble. Every time you bounce a ball... that's the tough thing, trying to figure out how the game will be called."

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