When you look at your buy games before the season begins, the mid-majors that always scare you are the bomb squads, the volume shooting teams that are liable to go 18-37 from three and make you regret scheduling them. To a degree, that was The Citadel team that NC State faced Sunday night.
Fortunately, The Citadel is pretty terrible at every other aspect of basketball outside of shooting, and it’s among the shortest teams in the country. So with Manny Bates waiting at the rim, State was going to be just fine if it could prevent open looks from beyond the arc. It did a fine job of that in the first half too, contesting shots and running shooters off the three-point line while holding the Bulldogs to just 22 points. The Pack led by 18 at the half.
Aside from about a four-minute stretch, State sleepwalked through a lot of the second half, which allowed The Citadel to make a few attempts at a rally. It never really got too close for comfort, and the Pack eventually closed out the Bulldogs to earn the 83-63 win.
The Pack was led by Devon Daniels in scoring. The junior wing posted his best perimeter shooting game of the year, hitting three of six attempts on his way to 18 points. The Pack bench actually outscored the starting lineup with Hellems, Funderburk, and Bryce all coming off the bench and contributing double figure scoring efforts. Markell Johnson continued his strong play as well, earning his first career triple-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. It was the fourth triple double in program history.
The Pack moves to 9-3 with one game remaining before the conference season officially starts. Since halftime of the Memphis game, State has been increasingly good basketball. Assuming it can avoid a letdown against Appalachian State, the schedule presents a great opportunity for a very strong start to the ACC portion of the schedule.