Well, that escalated quickly. Despite an impressive start for the Wolfpack behind an onslaught of Terry Henderson triples, NC State took a 112-94 loss against a gifted offensive team in Creighton. Creighton's starters ranged between scoring 12 and 20 points as State offered little resistance on most possessions.
The Pack shot 45.6% from the floor and were a shocking 14-29 on threes. Creighton finished 60.6% overall and went 13-27 from deep. Given the out of nowhere three-point production from State, it seemed like they might have been heading in the direction of snagging an early season signature win. However, the positive early trends were eventually overshadowed by horrid defense and foul trouble.
The brightest spot for State was Henderson's shooting. He totaled 28 points as Dennis Smith Jr. dropped 21 and pulled 7 boards. Smith was only 6-16 from the floor, though, and at times looked unsure of how to attack the Creighton defense.
Without question, the Wolfpack didn't receive the production it needed from its big men, the partial result of foul trouble for Abdul-Malik Abu and Beejay Anya. Anya fouled out and Abu was 1 of 4 State players to commit 4 fouls. Frequent fouling became part of why backup guard Markell Johnson logged 30 minutes to fill in the gaps. He was active but only managed to go 3-9 shooting.
For Creighton, Cole Huff did much of the damage as he went 8-8 from the line and 4-5 from deep on the path to 20 points. Maurice Watson Jr. had plenty of help as Khyri Thomas and Marcus Foster contributed to an overwhelming backcourt performance by Creighton. That trio had between 13 and 16 points. State had extreme difficulty keeping Creighton's guards outside of the lane throughout the contest.
Of course, the primary takeaway is hard to be anything but the Wolfpack being torched defensively. However, I attribute much of this game to playing Creighton under the worst possible conditions. Opposing a team of that offensive skill and depth with State down three important players is quite a bit to ask.
In other words, no one should overreact to one loss against a potentially great team who State played under way less than ideal circumstances. Hopefully some of what we witnessed tonight won't be transpiring once Omer Yurtseven and others are in the fold.
With the loss, State now turns its sights toward St. Joseph's. That game will occur tomorrow 11/21 at 6:00 PM ET.