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NC State 71, Villanova 68: Pack's depth on display as State advances

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Box Score

Four Factors NC State
eFG% 48.1 38.5
Turnover Rate 15.7
Off Reb Rate 37.4 27.3
FT Rate 50.9 37.7

Villanova 68 64 106.3 110.9
NC State
71 64 110.9 106.3

I'm not sure that NC State has had two forwards post a double-double in one game, but that's what happened on Saturday. Lennard Freeman scored 11 points on 5-7 shooting and grabbed 12 boards; Abdul-Malik Abu scored 13 on 4-10*** shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds.

(***Roughly three of those missed shots came on one possession where Abu was simply testing his ability to grab offensive boards close to the rim. Naturally, this test required him to miss shots. He passed the test, by the way.)

These guys have had this potential all along, it's just rarely come together for them like this on the same night. Even Kyle Washington, who was only in this game briefly, scored a key basket in the first half to help keep the game in order when it appeared Villanova might be making a run.

And Dez Lee was great off the bench, scoring seven points on 3-6 shooting. It feels like this weekend will be remembered as one that belonged to unlikely heroes. This is not to diminish the contributions from State's regulars. Cat Barber was really good tonight. Trevor Lacey was really good.

The supporting cast just had a great and improbable couple of days. It was BeeJay Anya who scored the big baskets to lead State past LSU, and it was Dez Lee who gave the team a steadying hand off the bench against Villanova. Lee's hustle and quickness ended up being a huge bonus on a night where Ralston Turner wasn't shooting well.

With those efforts a possibility on any given night, State becomes an even bigger wildcard in this tournament. I'm pretty excited to see how it all works out.