The signs for NC State basketball leading into this game were not exactly encouraging, and a second-half meltdown against Illinois on Tuesday night did not help. NC State led at the break by one point but ended up losing to a very probably not good Illini team, 88-74.
The Wolfpack played sloppy basketball throughout the first half, turning the ball over so often that they essentially negated a good-shooting half. That was the decisive bit, as Illinois bounced back from a cold first half to shoot ridiculously well in the second half, as State’s defense and competitive will faded to nothing.
Some guys did some good stuff, but my goodness what an unexpected—and really unneeded—poor performance this was. NC State never looked in sync, even as it managed to put a run or two together. Too many poor decisions, too much sloppy defense, too many passes to nowhere. I don’t even want to know what State’s turnover rate in this game was. It doesn’t really matter, though.
Looking long term, State just got housed by a Big Ten team likely to finish near the bottom of that league. Sound the alarms, because this is bad. Really bad. Illinois—not a good offensive ballclub—managed nearly 60 points in the second half.
This NC State team is not whole, granted, but it is not anywhere close to being NCAA-quality right now. And it may never get there. You gotta do better than this, man. These results early in the year, by these margins, portend very bad things. It may all change soon. State will get better. How much better? Well, let’s just say the next month will serve as a pretty good test.