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Freshmen dominate as NC State wins fifth straight over Notre Dame, 80-69

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NCAA Basketball: N.C. State at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

NC State won its fifth consecutive game on Wednesday when it dropped Notre Dame in South Bend, 80-69. As has been a theme during the Pack’s strong finish, it got great play from its trio of young guards. The freshmen have rapidly grown up over the last few weeks, and this was the group’s best game.

Cam Hayes led all scorers with 20 points on 7-11 shooting. Dereon Seabron was 8-12 for 17 points. Both were career highs. The freshmen trio combined for 45 points, 8 assists, 4 steals, and just 3 turnovers. These guys are good and getting better everyday.

State was extremely efficient on offense, knocking down 54% of its shots and 39% from three, and it opened up a 40-32 lead at halftime behind Hayes and another good scoring half from Jericole Hellems. The Pack blew the game open in the second behind potent three-point shooting and transition scoring, ultimately opening up a 76-57 lead. It was an excellent and complete 37 minutes of basketball from the Pack. State decided it wasn’t really interested in the final three, but it had built enough of a cushion to overcome a 12-0 run and finish the game.

This team has really come together over this five game stretch, and it’s been fun to watch both in the moment and in the context of next year. Barring an emergency game to replace the canceled contest against Virginia Tech, the Pack now heads into the ACC Tournament with a legit chance of making a run, the ACC being stacked with mediocre teams and whatnot.

What a run could mean for NC State’s chances of sneaking into the NCAA Tournament is probably not something worth discussing until the Pack wins at least one game. Either way, this has been a fun run of winning after a tough season, and State’s now a hot team playing with nothing to lose. That’s a dangerous place to be. We’ll see what happens.