State won a basketball game on Wednesday, but it still felt like it lost more than it won.
I’m talking, of course, about the injury to Devon Daniels. In a season that looks like it is trending toward a waste of time anyway, Daniels’ high level of play has been one of the few really bright spots this year. He was having yet another good game on Wednesday, notching a double-double with 20 points and 10 boards, before he went down with what appeared to be a painful non-contact knee injury.
Daniels stayed down a long time and would ultimately never return to the game. Nobody was asked to do more for this team than the senior, and he has been up to the task. State won the game tonight, but the loss of its best player could prove far more significant if Daniels is out long-term, which seems like a real possibility but we don’t want to speculate.
State forced its share of turnovers, which proved to be a difference-maker in the outcome. Wake committed 19 of them, many early on, which allowed the Pack to build a double-digit lead. The cushion would prove enough to hold off Wake’s rally.
State got a good game from Jericole Hellems, who went 6-7 from the line and contributed 17 points. The Pack gave a lot of run to its freshman guards, who gave up and down performances. Cam Hayes looked good early collapsing the defense with dribble penetration and finding shooters on the perimeter. Hayes struggled to score though, and really started to force things as the game went on. Shakeel Moore was back, and he made the big plays he is wired to make, including a critical late bucket to keep Wake at an arm’s length.
State moves to 3-4 in the ACC, but the loss of Daniels feels like it overshadows anything else that comes out of this game if he’s out for a long time. It’s tough to see State making a run back without him.