Rob Kinnan-US PRESSWIRE
|Off Reb Rate||24.1||32.6|
So that did not begin in what we might consider ideal fashion--Richard Howell had two fouls and was out of the game within a few minutes, Brown and Leslie were sloppy, and Scott Wood was totally contained. But despite this unexpected combination of regrettable circumstances, NC State was never in much jeopardy, and we have Rodney Purvis and T.J. Warren to thank for that.
After a sluggish start, Purvis was there to inject some offense into the proceedings and even the score, and Warren was able to help the Pack build a lead. Without their efforts, NC State would not have been up nine points at halftime, and honestly, the Pack probably didn't deserve to have that kind of a lead.
Fortunately, Penn State was an offensive train wreck, as advertised. They took advantage of Howell's absence in the first half by out-hustling NC State and picking up more offensive boards than they might otherwise have expected, but once Howell was able to actually play for an extended period of time, their offense died, and for obvious reasons. Or rather one obvious reason, which is that it could take two or three shots per possession for the Nittany Lions to get points. PSU was grabbing about 41% of their misses at halftime, and you can see where they finished. That's one reason why Howell is a crucial member of this NC State team. Not that he was the entire reason for the reversal, but he is the team's best rebounder.
Once the second half got started, the universe began to return to its proper orientation--Leslie was more aggressive and more accurate around the rim and Scott Wood was able to find some openings. Overall it was not a well-played game by NC State--and the Nittany Lions deserve credit here for some tough defense--but it was ultimately an easy victory, and that's the bottom line. The Pack came out determined in the second half, and you could just sense the Penn State sideline deflating, especially once Wood was able to get some space and hit a couple of threes.