Give Kansas State a lot of credit, they played loose and didn’t look the least bit scared about playing a top-five team on its home floor. The first quarter was a shot-making affair, as the Wildcats showcased an efficient offense that probably ain’t just a reflection of their early-season schedule. After banking in a three under duress as time expired in the first quarter, K-State had itself a 19-19 tie.
But NC State wasn’t short on good shooting either, and the Wildcats’ poor defense was exposed over the course of the night as the Wolfpack pulled away. The Pack outscored K-State by 10 in the second quarter to put a firm hold on this one.
Pace and Efficiency
Kansas State came in with an effective field goal percentage of 48.2 on the season, and they’d made only about 20 percent of their threes—they careered it on both counts in this game and still lost by 21 points. Their 10-22 effort from beyond the arc was easily their best of the season, including a season-high in made threes.
That didn’t matter at all because NC State was also 10-22 from three as the Pack took full advantage of a Wildcats zone defense that was derelict at best. If the idea was to limit Elissa Cunane, then it was a curious one, because the Cats have an excellent center of their own in Ayoka Lee—and she was mostly up to the one-on-one matchup. Cunane did not have a great first half.
You can tell a bad zone defense by the frequent and varied open pockets of space for shooters. Kansas State’s guards were too easily sheared from possessions by simple ball screens that left NC State to feast on wide open jumpers around the free throw line. This is something NC State did frequently and unapologetically.
Cunane ended up getting hers regardless—18 on 6-11 shooting, including a triple—but it was the guards and wings who were really left to thrive, and there NC State’s superior depth and talent wore away the Wildcats.
Kansas State managed better than a point per possession, which is a really good effort under the circumstances, but NC State was on top of its game offensively and also squeezed K-State in the right places. The Wolfpack did a great job on the defensive boards and also didn’t put K-State on the free throw line much. Wes Moore won’t be thrilled by the defensive performance, but it got better after the first quarter, and anyway didn’t matter in the least, because NC State was just that good offensively.