|Four Factors||NC State
|Off Reb Rate||46.8||35.6|
NC State easily defeated USF in Sunday's contest by a 65-46 score. I missed the first few minutes of the game since ESPNU's Stanford/Clemson soccer match ran into our time, but thankfully the Wolfpack had little trouble with its opponent. Beejay Anya stood out with his 17 points and 5 blocks.
Abdul-Malik Abu grabbed 14 rebounds and put up 11 points of his own, and Lennard Freeman grabbed 8 boards as NC State won on the glass by a double-digit margin. Cat Barber had a volume 6-20 shooting game, although his activity was constant and it was actually nice to see others step up. Barber still managed to have a game-high 19 points.
Without sounding overly critical, no one could reasonably watch USF's performance without being unimpressed. They had zero confidence shooting the ball, and much of their offense consisted of aimless dribbling and passes that didn't aid the possession.
USF shot 29.5% from the field which made NC State's 36.8% clip look acceptable. Each team struggled severely from three-point land, USF going 2-12 and NC State going 3-21. Oddly enough, Barber and Shaun Kirk each made one of those threes, meaning we can stop saying Maverick Rowan and Caleb Martin are the only players in red to make a triple on the season.
What was most promising in this matchup was the input from NC State's big men. With Barber, Rowan and Caleb Martin combining for 8-40 shooting from the floor, one would hope the bigs had a better showing. Rather than solely relying on Cat's production to notch a win, it was time for a monster game from a non-perimeter player or two.
I wrote an offseason article back in May inquiring about whether or not Anya could improve his offense. His famous LSU game-winner in last year's NCAA Tournament was a glorious move, and today Anya showcased some of those similar footwork skills. The Wolfpack would benefit from Anya emerging as an offensive fixture in the post, something this win displayed. Many of his best moves came against Jaleel Cousins who had 8 points and 12 boards for USF.
Beyond Cousins, USF received 13 points from Jahmal McMurray and 10 from Nehemias Morillo. McMurray's inefficient play and recurring tendency to operate with hesitation set the tone for his teammates. The ESPNU announcers noted USF's poor team three-point numbers, and they were spot on in saying USF almost played as if they were painfully aware of these limitations.
Moving forward, perhaps the Wolfpack can continue to receive positive contributions from the team's three most important big men. If nothing else, today marked a road win and a needed group effort from this unit. Of course a road USF victory won't mean anything come Selection Sunday, but given the early struggles at times this season, I'm happy NC State avoided a terrible loss.
The Wolfpack's next game will be a Wednesday, 12/16 home matchup against High Point at 7:00 PM ET.