In spite of a second half push, NC State ultimately lost to Syracuse by a 75-66 score. The loss drops State to 14-15 overall, a depressing record to acknowledge with March approaching, and 4-12 in ACC play. Syracuse improves to 19-10 with a 9-7 conference record following the win.
Syracuse can always be associated with two things - the presence of Jim Boeheim and an annoying zone defense. State managed to figure out an offensive attack in the second half as was seen by a 40 point total. However, just 26 points in the first half and figuring out the zone too late in the game played a significant role here.
The only player to have both a quality and efficient offensive showing was Abdul-Malik Abu. He went 5-10 from the field in his 14 point/12 rebound performance. Upon first glance, Caleb Martin's 18 point/8 board game would be more than acceptable. Then the realization of his 7-19 from the field, 1-7 from three-land shooting display sinks in. The same can apply to Maverick Rowan who went 4-11 from the field, 2-8 on threes and had 5 turnovers. Anthony Barber managed to go 8-9 from the line but didn't have his normal game.
What's painfully clear is that NC State doesn't have enough bodies, and some of the bodies that they do have are either too inconsistent or inexperienced. I wrote an article earlier in the year on Rowan contributing positively for State, but it has become clear, as others noted in replies to that article, that Rowan's inefficiency and lack of defense has hurt the Wolfpack in the long run. I still see Mav as a quality future piece, but this year has featured too many poor games.
Beyond Mav, there's plenty of blame to apply elsewhere, and some of that blame falls upon old fashioned luck. We haven't had Terry Henderson all year, and players who needed to step up in his absence have largely not done so. I feel like I've written that exact sentence in the past.
Lennard Freeman hasn't been fully healthy or effective, BeeJay Anya has never developed an offensive game, Shaun Kirk isn't quite ready for minutes, and the Martin twins, while excellent in parts, have been inconsistent. I realize this is a game recap for the Syracuse loss, but sometimes I can't help but speculate on the season as a whole when watching another disappointing result form before our eyes.
For the Cuse, they received an explosion of 34 points from Michael Gbinije. Normally not a great shooter, Gbinije went 8-13 on threes. Malachi Richardson had 13 points and Tyler Lydon also had 11 for Syracuse. If you would've told me pregame that Trevor Cooney would miss all his three attempts and score 5 points, I would've liked our chances. Too bad Gbinije had an unexpected superhuman effort for Boeheim and company.
As Syracuse prepares to play in March, we're left to wonder what could've been if Trevor Lacey returned, if Henderson didn't get hurt, if Kyle Washington didn't transfer, if this 2015-16 basketball season could've been different. Regardless, sometimes accepting disappointment and thinking on the future is a better feeling.
Only two ACC regular season games remain, and it would be fair to say this ACC run can't end soon enough. The next will be a Wednesday, 3/2 home game against Boston College at 9:00 PM ET.