Defending The Canes
Mark Gottfried and his staff had a week to prepare for Miami's ball-screen offense, and they had the team ready to go. NC State did an outstanding job of not only limiting Miami's dribble penetration but also defending the 3-point line.
Big men Jordan Vandenberg, Lennard Freeman, Kyle Washington, and BeeJay Anya were terrific at hedging on screens, and the Pack players not involved in the ball-screens were communicating and rotating nicely to defend the rest of the floor.
Miami shot a putrid 33.3% from the field, as they hit just 17-of-51 field goals. They were even worse from behind the 3-point line, as they hit only 5-of-18 (27.8%) attempts.
"Team defense today was maybe as good as we've had in a while," said Gottfried. "Collectively we did a nice job defensively which I thought was the key to the game."
"I thought it was one of our best defensive efforts, sustaining the defense through a possession. That was big for us."
NC State didn't have much offense against the Canes, and what they did have generally came from two players who stepped up at different times for the Wolfpack.
It was the Ralston Turner Show to start the game, as he hit 6-of-9 field goals including 4-of-7 3-point attempts to score 16 of the Wolfpack's 32 halftime points.
"It helps when Ralston was able to make some shots," said Gottfried. "We were able to penetrate and find him a few times [in the first half].
Turner cooled off considerably in the second half, in fact he didn't hit a field goal, but that's okay because T.J. Warren went off. Warren played just 10 first-half minutes due to foul trouble, but that didn't slow him down in the second half, as he scored a ridiculous 19 of the Pack's 25-second half points.
"T.J. in the second half, I think offensively was spectacular," Gottfried added. "He had a will to help his team win that was tremendous."
NC State wasn't hitting shots late, but they were able to put themselves in a position to win with clutch shooting from the free throw line.
Overall, NC State hit 15-of-20 free throws (75%) and hit 7-of-10 in the last three minutes of the game with one of those misses, the last by Kyle Washington, being intentional.
Warren led the way, as he hit 9-of-10 free throws in the second half.
While Warren and Turner were hitting shots, the rest of the team really struggled.
The two wings hit 14-of-27 (51.8%) shots. The seven other Wolfpack players hit just 3-of-18 field goals (16.7%). Only Tyler Lewis (1) and Jordan Vandenberg (2) hit field goals, as Cat Barber, Kyle Washington, Desmond Lee, and Lennard Freeman combined to go 0-of-9 from the field.
Miami's zone defense is good, but at times NC State seemed to reliant on the perimeter jumper and didn't look to work the ball into the paint.
For a team that consistently posts strong scoring numbers in the paint, State had just 18 against the Hurricanes.
It's been a common issue recently for NC State's defense.
The opposition will struggle converting on their first shot attempt, but will get another attempt after another due to hitting the Wolfpack hard on the offensive glass.
NC State started solid on the backboard, limiting Miami to just four offensive rebounds while holding a +7 (17-10) rebounding advantage at the half. But, Miami changed that in the second half by sending more players to the offensive glass in hopes of generating second-chance points, which they did.
The Canes had 13 second-half offensive rebounds that they turned into 13 second-chance points, and for the game they had 17 offensive rebounds and 19 of their 55 points were second-chance points (34.5%).
NC State has now allowed six straight opponents to grab double-digit offensive rebounds and score double-digit second-chance points.
A lot of their success came against NC State's small lineup that has Warren playing the four position.
"We haven't rebounded well with [the small lineup]," said Gottfried. "We have to be better there if we're going to do that."
+/- 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 +9. That means NC State outscored Miami by 9 points with Freeman on the floor. Desmond Lee was -6... State was outscored by 6 points when Lee was on the floor.
Tyler Lewis: -4
Desmond Lee: -6
BeeJay Anya: +3
Lennard Freeman: +9
Cat Barber: +5
Jordan Vandenberg: -3
Kyle Washington: -3
Ralston Turner: +3
T.J. Warren: +1
PLAYER OF THE GAME
T.J. Warren simply took over the game for the Wolfpack.
He finished with a game-high 27 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the field. He also totaled seven rebounds and a steal in 29 minutes of action.
The ACC's leading scorer has now scored 20+ points in six straight games, and he shot 55.1% from the field over that stretch.
"We have to impose our will," said Gottfried. "I thought T.J. had that mindset. He started to gain confidence against their defense... he was going to find a way to put the ball in the basket."
STAT OF THE GAME
Looking to attack the zone from the perimeter, NC State came out and hit 7-of-12 3-pointers in the first half (58.3%). The hot shooting from deep allowed the Wolfpack to build a six-point halftime advantage.
"That was a grinder. It's an important win for us, very important I'm very proud of my team. I thought it was a gutsy, tough win."