You had to go and do this, basketball team. We couldn’t just have a nice relaxing holiday weekend, COULD WE. NC State started slow against Loyola-Chicago, came back to take a comfortable lead, then had to hold on for dear life down the stretch. The Wolfpack improved to 5-1 with a 79-77 victory over Loyola-Chicago.
That was certainly not what anybody wanted to see this afternoon—Loyola is not a basement-level mid-major, but NC State was still a 14-point favorite according to the Pomeroy Ratings. Obviously it never worked out quite that way.
Dennis Smith scored 30 points on 13-22 shooting, and made some key plays down the stretch. Draining a couple of free throws in a one-and-one situation during the final minute counts among those. Torin Dorn added 20 points on 7-10 shooting, while Markell Johnson stepped up with some big steals late in the second half.
None of this game was ideal, but State got through it, so we can live with it for now. This is absolutely a red flag type of result, though. I’m trying to cut this group some slack simply because they have not spent a lot of time together, but some old problems remaining problems (see: defense) is discouraging. You can’t change a lot within a program if you can’t address that, and so far Mark Gottfried’s team hasn’t bothered.