Gottfried Pushes Right Buttons
Mark Gottfried made a few adjustments after halftime that stood out. First of all, he went to a smaller lineup that matched Georgia Tech's quickness. He moved T.J. Warren to the four for much of the second half, which allowed NC State to have four perimeter players on the court which led to some transition scoring and plus-offensive matchups.
Gottfried also stuck with Tyler Lewis in the second half after he hit a couple of huge 3-pointers. Lewis played just three minutes in the first half, but he was out there for 20 minutes of the second half and overtime.
Finally, he went to a zone defense that seemed to stifle the Yellow Jackets. The Wolfpack gave up some offensive rebounds, but they held Tech to 40.6% shooting after allowing them to hit 50% of their attempts in the first half.
"It enabled us to leave our four perimeter players in the game," Gottfried said of the zone. "I thought it really helped us.
"I'm stubborn sometimes because I like to stay in our man defense. I watched the Miami game where Miami went to Georgia Tech and Miami zoned them the whole game. I felt like if we can't guard them in our man defense we would go to the zone. We went to it and the more we played with it our guys started figuring out how Georgia Tech was trying to score and that helped us too. Sometimes, when you have a hunch, you bet a bunch."
Hot From The Field
NC State had been struggling from the field in several games prior to the second half against Maryland. But since then, they've been on fire.
NC State shot 53.3% in the win over Georgia Tech, hitting 32-of-60 shots, including 5-of-13 3-pointers (38.5%). It was the first game since December 21st (East Carolina) that the Wolfpack shot over 50% from the field.
Perhaps they were more efficient from the field because the scoring was so balanced. No one attempted over 12 shots, and four players scored in double figures for the Wolfpack.
Perhaps they found something in the win against Maryland, where they didn't have star wing T.J. Warren. Instead of relying on him for shots/touches each possession, they ran the offense and got more production from the others, including the big men.
"For us to be really good, we have to get scoring from a lot of different places," said Gottfried. "Look at Lennard Freeman and Kyle Washington. Combined those guys go 8-11 from the field. T.J. (Warren) and Ralston Turner made some big baskets. Desmond didn't start the game, but between Desmond, Ralston and T.J., they are all going to play a lot.
"It's important for our team to get production from a lot of different guys. For us to become really good, that is what has to happen."
Simply put, NC State got whipped on the backboard. Georgia Tech outrebounded the Pack by 11 and had 18 offensive rebounds that led to 18 second-chance points.
This is becoming a disturbing trend for NC State, as they've now allowed three straight opponents to grab double-digit rebounds and score double-digit second-chance points.
Much of Tech's board-work came in the second half when State was playing zone. The Yellow Jackets grabbed 10 offensive rebounds and scored 12 of their second-chance points in the final twenty minutes and overtime. While NC State was producing misses with their zone they were giving up multiple opportunities to score.
"The only negative with the zone is at times we didn't rebound very well because we had a small group in there," said Gottfried.
Free Throw Shooting
Even more disturbing was the Pack's free throw shooting.
NC State hit just 11-of-20 from the free throw line (55%), with wings Ralston Turner and T.J. Warren combining to go 5-of-11.
It was the fourth straight game that the Wolfpack failed to shoot 70% or higher from the free throw line.
Defending Daniel Miller
NC State had no answer for the Georgia Tech big man.
In the first half the Wolfpack tried to front him and he had at least two dunks because of it. When they gave him space, he hit a couple of jumpers. Miller was aggressive attacking the rim and a menace on the backboard.
He finished with a game-high 21 points and 14 rebounds (seven offensive).
"I thought Daniel Miller for them was really good today," said Gottfried. "He gave us some trouble. We tried to front him and they threw the ball over the top and we didn't have great weak-side help. Then we played behind him and guarded him a little bit better, but he had a great game."
+/- 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 +12. That means NC State outscored Georgia Tech by 12 points with Turner on the floor. Cat Barber was -8... State was outscored by 8 points when Barber was on the floor.
Ralston Turner: +12
Tyler Lewis: +8
Desmond Lee: +3
T.J. Warren +1:
BeeJay Anya: +1
Kyle Washington: 0
Jordan Vandenberg: 0
Lennard Freeman: -7
Cat Barber: -8
PLAYER OF THE GAME
T.J. Warren hit the game-winner and led the team with 20 points and six rebounds, but Tyler Lewis gave NC State the lift they needed.
After playing just three minutes in the first half, Lewis would play 20 in the second half and overtime, finishing with 10 points (4-of-6 FG, 2-of-3 3s), three assists, one rebound, one steal, and one turnover.
"Tyler's two back-to-back 3-pointers gave us great energy and belief," said Gottfried. "He played terrific."
STAT OF THE GAME
Although Georgia Tech doubled up NC State in offensive rebounds (18-to-9) and had more second-chance points (18-to-12), the Wolfpack was +14 in points in the paint, outscoring the Yellow Jackets 40-26.
"I would rather just get ahead and stay ahead but one thing I would like to say about our group is that they have a lot of resolve. They practice like that every day. They have great energy. We have a great spirit within our team.
"We called a timeout in the second half and we are down by six or eight. We had energy in the huddle. Guys were encouraging each other. There just is not a lot of pouting. It's a fun group in that regard. That gives them a chance because we are staying positive all of the time. It has helped us come back in some of these games where we haven't been playing well."