Pack Grab Tigers by Tail, Let Go

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

N.C. State lost a 10-point lead and the game in what could be a critical contest come March.

N.C. State held a 10-point advantage with under nine minutes to play but wilted down the stretch against visiting #25 Missouri, which outscored the Pack 25-11 down the stretch to escape PNC Arena with a 68-64 win.

T.J. Warren led the Pack (9-3) with 24 points but failed to tally over the last 12:05 of the game, and slight freshman Cat Barber showed his first signs of growing pains at the point against the Tigers' trio of physical, 6-foot-5 guards. Barber sat for 14 minutes of the first half due to early foul trouble and managed just six points on 2-for-11 shooting; he missed four of six free-throw attempts, including a front end on a one-and-one with the Pack trailing by a point with 26.8 seconds left. After making their first five from the charity stripe, the Pack missed six of their last nine freebies, including the front end of two one-and-ones.

Guards Jordan Clarkson, Jabari Brown, and Earnest Ross all had big games for the Tigers (11-1). Though he was only 5-for-15 from the field, Clarkson, the SEC's leading scorer, finished with 21 points. He was 9-for-10 from the line and gave the Tigers their first lead with 3:52 to play when he drove, scored, picked up Barber's fourth foul, and completed the traditional three-point play. After Ralston Turner connected from deep on two of three Pack possessions, Brown, who finished with 17, sank a deep three with just under a minute to play that put the Tigers up 63-62. It was a lead they would not relinquish. Ross finished with a double-double, scoring 11 points and equaling Warren with a game-high 13 rebounds.

Desmond Lee and Kyle Washington played supporting roles for the Pack offensively, with Lee scoring nine of his 12 points in the first half and Washington finishing with a career-best 10 points to go with two blocked shots. Washington scored six of the Pack's seven points during the 7-2 run that pushed the lead to 10 in the second half. Unfortunately, the rest of the Pack's post players were nonfactors. Jordan Vandenberg battled foul trouble and managed just two points and three rebounds. BeeJay Anya and Lennard Freeman registered a goose egg in the scoring column and together totaled just three rebounds and two blocks in a combined 33 minutes.

Ultimately, the Pack had three chances for quality wins in their non-conference slate and came up on the short end in two of three, winning at Tennessee but losing at Cincinnati and at home against Missouri. It might have gone differently against the Tigers if not for all the missed opportunities at the line, an uncalled lane violation that gifted the Tigers a point, and, of course, a banked three-pointer that stunted the Pack's momentum when they looked like they were going to take command of the game...because #ncstateshitoffuckingcourse. This one stings.

State, which had won seven straight, closes out its non-conference slate Monday evening against UNCG at the Greensboro Coliseum (where they serve beer!). The Spartans are 1-2 against ACC competition in 2013, with a blowout loss to UNC, a close loss to Wake Forest, and a win over moribund Virginia Tech. The Pack seemed to learn and grow from their last loss, an overtime upset against NCCU. Hopefully there will be another step in the right direction in the last non-conference tune up that will carry into the coming rigors of ACC play.

And now, your factors:

Factors

Missouri

N.C. State

eFG%

47.1

45.9

Turnover Rate

17.4

13.7

Offensive Rebound Rate

44.1

41.0

Free Throw Rate

50.0!

23.0

Points

Tempo

Off. Eff.

Def. Eff.

Missouri

68

57.4

118.5

109.2

N.C. State

64

58.6

109.2

118.5

Good thing the Pack had all that home cooking or who knows how bad they would have been outscored at the line; as it was, they were only -11 at the stripe. State is now -52 on the season at the line.

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