Here are some thoughts and observations from NC State's 99-71 win over Rider at PNC Arena.
Typically there are one or two players who have might surpass 20 points scoring when a team finishes with 99 points. NC State had six players in double figures scoring but the team leader was Dennis Smith Jr. with 19. The balance is starting to take shape with the Wolfpack. All five starters, including Omer Yurtseven in his first college start, along with Maverick Rowan off the bench scored at least 10 points. When the Pack is near its peak offensively, and Smith is dishing out assists like he did against Rider, they will be a hard team to beat.
The Wolfpack outmuscled the Broncs to a tune of 50 rebounds to 35. NC State was aggressive both on the boards and in pursuit of the loose ball. Ted Kapita came off the bench and finished with 11 rebounds while Abdul-Malik Abu finished with his 19th career double-double (12 points and 12 rebounds).
The rebounding woes of November and early December may be a thing of the past. NC State has its full set of weapons and the wings players, like Torin Dorn Jr., Terry Henderson and Maverick Rowan, are not likely to be leaned on as heavily in terms to attacking the boards although the trio combined for 12 versus Rider. What is nice for the Wolfpack is the responsibility the wings to rebound early in the season will likely make the team better and more complete on the boards when conference play starts at Miami on New Year's Eve.
Dennis Smith Jr.
There is no sense in having any pretense here, Smith was the player of the game and the stat line will be discussed in detail later on. The freshman dish out dunks and assists, he drove to the hoop and he hit three-pointers while also being steady but motivated to excel. To be clear, NC State will likely not face a team like Rider again this season but that does not diminish what he did. It was a remarkable performance.
NC State committed 15 turnovers against Rider, which continues a streak of at least 15 turnovers in three straight games. The Wolfpack has also scored 99, 97 and 99 points in those three contests. If the defense keeps improving there is frankly little need to worry about turnovers since State is scoring almost at will.
+/- is the points scored by a team minus the points allowed by a team while a certain player is on the floor.
Smith Jr.: +24
Dorn Jr.: 14
Corchiani Jr.: -4
STAT OF THE GAME
Dennis Smith Jr.: 19 points (7-15 FG, 3-6 3FG, 2-2 FT), 16 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals in 34 minutes
Ii should be noted once again that Smith will almost certainly not face another team like Rider again, perhaps ever. The ACC and postseason play will both feature tougher competition that will have defenses predicated on stopping the freshman. That said, there is something about Smith "doing what he is supposed to do" that is worth noting. His attacks to the rim and deft touch from outside had a remarkable effect in that it made his 16 assists almost an afterthought.
To put it in perspective. Smith had four turnovers yet his assist-to-turnover ratio was still 4-to-1.
QUOTE OF THE GAME
"Dennis, obviously, was terrific sharing the basket. He sets the tone passing the basketball for us. It was a good team win. Six guys in double figures is impressive. I like that about our team. Hopefully, we can keep improving and keep getting better." -- Mark Gottfried