Wednesday night was a good night for the Pack.
After snapping its 3-game losing streak on Saturday, NC State welcomed Syracuse to PNC Arena for a game it badly needed to avoid bubble life this March. The Pack turned in one of its best efforts of the season, especially on defense, and cruised to a 73-58 win over the Orange.
Just two games removed from giving up 113 points, State played its best game of the year on the defensive side of the ball. Syracuse earned very few open looks against the Pack’s high energy defense and was held to 35% shooting. Most of the shots the Orange did make, especially from the perimeter, were hotly contested. State also generated 12 turnovers, although it felt like way more than that, from its aggressive and opportunistic defense. Syracuse scored a lot of points off Pack turnovers, but outside of that it really struggled to score.
When the Pack wasn’t turning it over itself, this game really wasn’t that competitive. Other than a 12-2 stretch for the Orange at the end of the first half, which was fueled by State just kind of handing them the ball every possession, the Pack’s offense complimented its defense quite well against the trademarked Syracuse zone.
Braxton Beverly’s jumpshot was always going to be important against this defense, and he hit four threes as part of a 21 point effort. D.J. Funderburk was great in the second half, routinely finding space in the low post and getting easy buckets or free throws. The forward was 6/6 from the line.
The Pack was 20/24 on the night from the charity stripe, which is just extremely good. Nobody missed a free throw in the entire second half. Braxton Beverly was 9/9. I’m not sure how a guy like Braxton Beverly ends up taking nine free throws, but putting him on the line is a bad idea for opposing teams.
This was a great win for State as a team that had struggled this season to play a complete 40-minute game. This was a complete effort though and the kind of game that can spark a winning streak, which is why it’s so unfortunate that a road game at Duke is what follows. After the trip to Durham, State will face just one team in the final five games that will make the tournament, so the Pack can finish strong if it can continue to deliver complete games like this one.