Here are some quick thoughts and observations from NC State's 85-72 win over Montana Friday.
Free Throw Shooting
NC State made 21 of its 27 attempts from the free throw line. With the game being close for the first 32 minutes, any slippage at the charity stripe would have likely put the Wolfpack in a position to have to chase the game. That task would have been harder than normal for the Pack, as State had several players missing for the contest.
The freshman was fantastic for NC State, particularly defensively where he had four steals. Johnson also tallied nine points and six assists. He effort in the first half was a big reason Montana never created any separation despite shooting well from the floor.
"Markell, Wow. What a great lift he gave us off the bench... great minutes." -- Mark Gottfried
In a game where NC State only played seven players, a noticeably overweight BeeJay Anya provided the Wolfpack with 29 minutes of play. Montana struggled inside when the senior did rest. Anya's play had an impact and State will need more from him before the Pack returns home from its Caribbean sojourn.
"When BeeJay is out there he changes the whole dynamic of the game with his 7'9 wingspan and length around the rim.... sometimes he's vertical. He's a very big guy and they penalize him for his size sometimes." -- Abdul-Malik Abu
Abu's Added Range
No one will ever confuse Abdul-Malik Abu with Stephen Curry but the junior is no longer just scoring baskets around the hoop. He has added a mid-range game that not only will help him individually but bodes well for NC State when Abu is in the game with Anya, Omer Yurtseven or Ted Kapita. Abu will no longer have to loiter around the basket or dart straight to the rack when he sets up Smith or Johnson on pick-and-rolls. Abu finished with 25 points on only 10 field goal attempts against Montana. He also hailed down eight rebounds.
"Malik, I thought he kind of manhandled them three or four times around the bucket." -- Mark Gottfried
Overall, NC State did not defend well despite forcing 18 turnovers in the contest. Montana shot 50 percent and seemed to create the type of shots it wanted. To be fair, the Wolfpack did clamp down some after halftime. The Grizzlies shot 12-for-29 (42.9 %) in the second half.
+/- is essentially the points scored by a team minus the points allowed by a team while a certain player is on the floor.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
He was a superstar against Montana. His 25 points and eight rebounds came completely in the flow of the contest as nothing was forced. With NC State limited to playing only seven players, Abu's effort was a symbol of the growth he has made over the past summer while also being an indicator of the Pack's potential to improve this season.
STAT OF THE GAME
Abu, Dorn and Smith combined to score 62 points on 22-of-34 shooting from the floor.
Abu on his windmill dunk late in the game: "That's one of my favorite dunks to do. I never did it in a college game... I was excited, and I went for it. I normally make that dunk.. you should see some of the dunks Dennis does. It's outrageous. I'm getting old so I'll show you some here and there."