That was unfortunate. In losing 79-76, NC State drops to 2-2 on the young season as Arizona State improves to 3-1. Judging by the basketball product we just witnessed, the Wolfpack clearly lack a defensive and rebounding focus. The Sun Devils had numerous wide open driving lines. They also killed the Wolfpack on the offensive boards, Savon Goodman in particular. He totaled 21 points and 15 rebounds. 8 were on the offensive end.
For NC State, Anthony Barber lived at the foul line with his 12-14 clip. His 22 points were the most for the Wolfpack, Maverick Rowan finishing behind Cat with 14 of his own on 5-10 shooting. Two positive points were Barber's driving ability and Rowan's confidence letting it fly. Overall, NC State outshot Arizona State 45.6% to 43.5%, and the Wolfpack were also more efficient from deep. A loss is a loss, though, so these statistics end up feeling meaningless.
What killed NC State was a lack of defensive focus and the Sun Devils crashing the offensive glass. We certainly miss Terry Henderson for his shooting and presence in the starting lineup, but a significant portion of tonight's blame falls on NC State's big men. Beejay Anya, Abdul-Malik Abu, and Lennard Freeman were collectively outworked by Goodman and his Sun Devil teammates.
Through four games, it's disappointing to be off to a 2-2 start. No one expected the William & Mary loss, and most would agree the Wolfpack and Sun Devils are at similar team development points during this stage of the year. Point being, we lost a toss up game, and that's never fun. Mark Gottfried has never been known to place importance on defense. That stated, the Wolfpack have to cut down on the defensive letdowns and find an improved focus.
Next up for NC State will be LSU, a rematch of last year's NCAA Tournament game when Anya hit his unlikely buzzer-beating hook. The game will be shown on ESPNU and take place at 5:30 PM ET.