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NC State holds on for 77-73 victory over Boston

This is already tiresome.

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina State at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

If you were searching for reasons to not be alarmed about the state of NC State basketball, you probably didn’t see many on Saturday evening. The Wolfpack mostly controlled this game, but more sloppy sequences and bad defense kept the door open for Boston during the second half. State held on to win 77-73—State probably should have won this game by 15.

Torin Dorn and Terry Henderson paced the Wolfpack offense with a combined 45 points. Dorn was 9-11 from the free throw line, which was a crucial performance as the rest of the team struggled to make their freebies. Down the stretch, the Pack missed on multiple one-and-one opportunities.

Dennis Smith was visibly frustrated by the Boston zone defense, though he did just about kill a guy on a dunk during the second half. He committed some unacceptable turnovers in the last five or six minutes to help Boston stay in the game after NC State had expanded the lead to double digits.

This team was pretty terrible down the stretch but it did survive, and that’s something, I guess. Still it’s incredibly frustrating to watch this group make poor mistakes, miss free throws, and suffer terrible defensive lapses when they should instead be closing out an over-matched opponent. The Pack dodged some bullets today, and while there are freshman growing pains that we’ll have to live with (see: Hicks, Johnson shooting FTs), there’s plenty for the veterans on the squad to clean up as well.

I don’t know what’s wrong with Abdul-Malik Abu, but he’s pretty bad right now. He will be fine, but he was again an afterthought against a pretty good matchup for him, scoring only five points on 2-7 shooting while grabbing only six boards in 26 minutes. There was a moment late in the second half when he caught a pass in the paint, had no one within three feet of him, and instead of attacking the rim, he kinda made a half-move to the basket and pulled up for a shot that barely drew iron.

That moment was a microcosm for this team’s development up to this point. Seems like there isn’t a lot of confidence to go around, which begins with Dennis Smith, who had an off night. As the leader of the team, his body language and attitude are really important.

There’s just a whole hell of a lot that needs to be sorted by Mark Gottfried at this point. An off day from DSJ, a slow start to the season by Abu—these are not real long-term concerns. Re-establishing some confidence and finding some sort of defensive cohesion over the next few weeks are the tasks at hand.