Warren Sets The Tone
T.J. Warren was on fire from the start. The talented sophomore forward had 20 points and seven rebounds... at halftime, providing a lift when the rest of the Wolfpack was struggling from the field (7-of-24).
Warren cooled down some in the second half as he was limited with foul trouble, but he still managed to finish with 30 points (13-21 FGs, 3-5 3s), seven rebounds, three steals, and an assist in the win.
"T.J. came out in the first seconds of the game and there was a fire in his eye," said Mark Gottfried. "He was aggressive from the tip."
"Obviously, we had no answer for Warren," added Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton. "I thought he was spectacular. He did very good job. He was throwing it in. He made some shots I would be afraid to let some of my guys shoot.
"He's an outstanding player. I thought that he was obviously a huge factor in the game."
NC State was wobbly midway through the second half, and Florida State appeared to be going in for the knockout blow. Star wing T.J. Warren picked up his fourth foul with 6:58 left, and on FSU's next possession they hit a basket to take a three-point lead.
Down the stretch Gottfried used a lineup that featured Tyler Lewis, Cat Barber, and Desmond Lee, and all three had their moments. But, it wasn't just late... the trio made plays all game.
They combined to total 15 assists and just two turnovers, with nine of those assists coming in the second half. Lee scored all 11 of his points in the final 20 minutes, and Lewis finished with a game-high seven assists and zero turnovers.
The Pack's backcourt trio was pivotal in the win.
"[The three guards] were terrific," Gottfried said. "I thought Desmond all-around was really good. Tyler again, just played terrific. He made some great passes... he made some great plays. He had seven assists and no turnovers. He was really solid."
NC State continued its hot second-half shooting, hitting over 50% from the field in the final 20 minutes for the third straight game, all three Pack wins.
How did they do it? Through terrific ball movement and smart shot selection. The Pack ran their offense, working to get good shots, and had 10 assists on 15 made field goals.
Tyler Lewis was pivotal. He had five second-half assists, including some critical passes down the stretch.
"He made some good passes at the right times to the right guys," said Gottfried.
Desmond Lee was the closer for the Wolfpack. He scored 11 points with three rebounds, two assists, and a steal in 18 second-half minutes. His biggest basket came with nine seconds remaining, a putback layup that gave State a four-point advantage. He had a similar layup in the win over Georgia Tech to send the game into overtime.
"He has two in two games," said Gottfried. "We like to miss it to the right and have him get in there and get it. We actually executed very well. We took a little time off the clock. We had Kyle Washington posting up on one side and brought Ralston off of a great screen by Jordan Vandenberg. Ralston probably had the best look he had all night.
"Desmond made a heck of a play, and he has done it two games in a row."
Florida State managed to shoot just 42.9% from the field, and much of their success came on second shots as NC State's first possession defense was outstanding.
The Noles totaled 16 offensive rebounds that led to 24 second-chance points, a disturbing trend for the Wolfpack. Often State would force a missed shot, only to allow the Noles another opportunity to score, which they did.
NC State has now allowed four straight opponents to grab double-digit offensive rebounds and score double-digit second-chance points.
Next up for the Wolfpack is North Carolina, a team with terrific size and athleticism that can present problems on the backboard. The Wolfpack must clean that up if they are going to be successful on Saturday.
BeeJay Anya Injury
The extent of the injury isn't known, but Pack freshman center BeeJay Anya left the game in the first half after landing awkwardly. He had X-rays at the PNC Arena, which were negative, but was slated to get a MRI today.
"I hope BeeJay is okay," said Gottfried.
Losing Anya for an extended period of time would be bad for NC State. He's been rotating at center with Jordan Vandenberg, and the Pack's small lineup works best with one of those two on the floor.
Anya is averaging 2.3 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per 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, Jordan Vandenberg had a +/- of +7. That means NC State outscored Florida State by seven points with Turner on the floor. T.J. Warren was -2... State was outscored by 2 points when Barber was on the floor.
Jordan Vandenberg: +7
Cat Barber: +5
Tyler Lewis: +3
Ralston Turner: +2
Desmond Lee: +2
Kyle Washington: +2
Lennard Freeman: +1
BeeJay Anya: 0
T.J. Warren: -2
PLAYER OF THE GAME
T.J. Warren now has four 30-point games this season, the most in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and he continues to lead the league in scoring (22.5 points per game).
NC State is 4-0 when Warren scores more than 30 points and 12-3 when he scores over 20 points.
STAT OF THE GAME
NC State scores 63.6% of its points on 2-point field goals. That mark, which measures how teams rely on 2-point field goals for scoring, is the highest in the nation.
The Wolfpack was back at it on Wednesday, scoring 42 of their 74 points in the paint. They held Florida State to 26 paint points, a +16 advantage.
"We've had a couple days of bad weather, and I told my team that there might be 500 people here tonight. I thought our fans were huge for us tonight. There were enthusiastic, loud and here. They could have easily stayed at home and watched the game on TV. I am really thankful for them."