Defending The Terps
Much will be made of NC State's offensive performance, but the Wolfpack won this game by locking up Maryland.
The Terps have scorers on the perimeter and big men who pound the glass for putbacks and extra possessions, and while they did do that, NC State had plenty of success defending the Terps.
Maryland shot just 31.4% for the game, hitting only 22-of-70 shots. In the second half, when the Pack made their run, the Terps knocked down only 11 field goals, shooting a frigid 29.7% from the field.
Leading the way for NC State was junior guard Desmond Lee. Arguably the Pack's best defender, Lee took Dez Wells, Maryland's leading scorer (14.6 ppg), completely out of the game. Wells, a Raleigh native, hit just 2-of-11 field goals and had three turnovers, two of them offensive charges drawn by Lee.
"I think Dez Wells is a phenomenal player," said NC State head coach Mark Gottfried. "Desmond Lee did a great job. He took two charges. He deserves a lot of credit."
Hitting shots can cure a lot of issues and that was the case for the Wolfpack in the final 20 minutes.
Playing without the ACC's leading scorer, T.J. Warren, NC State shot a blistering 56.7% from the field in the second half. The Pack hit 17-of-30 field goals and 5-of-11 3-point attempts. They had 10 assists with just two turnovers after having two assists and six turnovers in the first half.
The offensive efficiency led to the Wolfpack outscoring the Terps by 18 points (45-27) in the second half.
"I thought in the first half we looked a little lost on offense... because we do rely on T.J. a lot," said Gottfried. "Then in the second half we just settled in... here's who is on the floor, we've got to play.
"Our guys really got comfortable, got aggressive. We really executed our offense very well."
Pack Shows Character
This was a much-needed win for NC State.
48 hours ago the Wolfpack was sitting at 1-4 in the league with three straight losses and about to face Maryland without leading scorer T.J. Warren. Going in, few would have expected the Wolfpack to win, especially after falling behind by 11 points at the start of the second half.
However, the team didn't fold. They rallied together and competed on both ends, doing enough to secure the victory. They now have five days to get ready for Georgia Tech, who will come to Raleigh on Sunday.
"I think that our team showed a lot of courage," Gottfried said. "They showed a lot of mental toughness. We stepped up in the second half and really played with tremendous desire. I'm proud of our guys for that."
The free throw shooting struggles continued for NC State, and really it was a tale of two halves.
Although the Pack struggled from the field in the first half, they didn't at the line, as they hit 8-of-10 free throws. However, in the second half they hit just 6-of-12 attempts, including a few misses late that could have hurt had Maryland converted at all offensively.
NC State shot 64% for the game (14-of-22). It helped them that Maryland shot much worse, hitting just 38% of their attempts (5-of-13).
Maryland's offensive numbers could have been even worse had they not rebounded as well as they did. With undersized big man Charles Mitchell grabbing 18 boards (nine offensive), the Terps snatched 22 offensive rebounds that led to 16 second-chance points.
How did they do it? They took advantage of NC State's shot-blocking ability. When Wolfpack big men Jordan Vandenberg, BeeJay Anya, and Kyle Washington left their man to attempt to block a shot, another Pack player wouldn't rotate down to box out Mitchell, Damontre Dodd, or Jonathan Graham, which led to easy putbacks at the rim.
This is an area of concern for NC State. They must do a better job of rotating to box out big men or be smarter at determining which shots they should attempt to block.
+/- 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, Ralston Turner had a +/- of +15. That means NC State outscored Maryland by 15 points with Turner on the floor. Lennard Freeman was -3... State was outscored by 3 points when Freeman was on the floor.
Ralston Turner: +15
Kyle Washington: +12
BeeJay Anya: +10
Desmond Lee: +9
Cat Barber: +4
Tyler Lewis: 0
Jordan Vandenberg: -2
Lennard Freeman: -3
PLAYER OF THE GAME
It was the Ralston Turner show on Monday night.
NC State needed someone to step up and replace some of Warren's production, but few could have expected the breakout performance by Turner. Not only did Turner score 23 points on 9-of-19 shooting while hitting five three-pointers, he also grabbed eight rebounds.
He was really on fire in the second half, hitting 5-of-11 3-pointers and scoring 19 of his 23 points.
"I thought Ralston was terrific in the second half," said Gottfried. "I thought Ralston kind of got in that zone... he got in that place, that zone where he thought he was making every shot. At that point we wanted to go to him a lot."
STAT OF THE GAME
We've talked about it some already, but the Wolfpack shot 56.7% from the field in the second half. They did so after going 6-of-27 in the first half (22.2%).
"Regardless of winning or losing, you've got to compete all the time. You've got to compete no matter what."