|Four Factors||NC State
|Off Reb Rate||40.5||21.2|
NC State needed Cat Barber to be great during the first half against Missouri on Saturday night. He was. Barber rescued the Wolfpack from a sluggish start and a 19-9 deficit, to somehow give the Pack a halftime lead. The rest of the team showed up for the second half, and the Wolfpack went on to an easy 73-59 victory.
The Pack's start to the game was exactly what I was worried about coming off of the game against High Point--the offense was mostly lifeless, the shot selection was bad, and mental lapses gave Missouri some free buckets. The first 12 minutes were dominated by really bad basketball on State's part, but fortunately, Missouri is a bad basketball team, and it did not capitalize as often as it could have.
Then Barber took control, leading the team on a 20-9 run to end the half and give NC State a 29-28 lead at the break. That included a buzzer-beating three by Cat to give State that margin. He's starting to get a knack for those.
NC State needed Barber to be the focal point in the first half, merely to sustain something approximating offense. In the second half, fortunately, that was not necessary. The team was considerably more sure-footed, and benefited from better shooting across the board. There was a more concerted effort to attack Mizzou's bigs, which made a difference.
The Wolfpack started quickly in the second half and never looked back, leading by as many as 20 points. Barber was always there when needed, but Malik Abu and Maverick Rowan were also there to provide the support that had been non-existent to begin the contest. Suddenly Missouri started to look like the extremely young team that it is.
The Tigers had sustained their lead by rebounding well defensively, but that edge evaporated as State gained confidence, and that noticeably helped turn the tide, along with the improved shooting. The Pack also went to the line 30 times, compared to 19 trips for Missouri.
All due credit to Missouri for the initial effort, but time--the long run--eventually caught up to the Tigers. Cat Barber wouldn't allow for a letdown tonight.