NC State’s emergency pick-up game against Saint Louis on Thursday night was the Pack’s first real test of the season. It lost, but being down a SLU of players, including two critical contributors, it’s hardly an indictment of the team.
State was without D.J. Funderburk and Cam Hayes, but still actually led for most of the game before it burned out down the stretch. The Pack got big contributions from Braxton Beverly and Manny Bates, the latter of which was great for most of the night and racked up a SLU of blocks in the first half. He got dangerously close to a triple-double with a 20-8-8 line, but it was all for naught.
Things spiraled out of control late in the second half when the Pack’s offense stagnated. State began taking a lot of bad jumpshots and not moving the ball well, and it cracked the door for a Billiken run that would ultimately be the difference. The Pack just looked tired by the end of the game. It looked like a team that hadn’t played basketball in a while, because that’s what it was.
State really couldn’t press much due to its short bench, but still ended up forcing 19 turnovers, the majority of which were created in the halfcourt. It was rebounding, though, that did State in. The Pack gave up a SLU of offensive rebounds and second-chance points. It was the primary source of offense in the first half for the Billikens, who would end up trouncing State on the boards 52-26. That’s not going to get it done. (That’s a difference of 26, which I think can be officially considered a SLU.)
This would have been a nice win for State, and it had its shot at it, but it couldn’t quite overcome its missing pieces. So it goes. The Pack has Campbell on Saturday.