One thing we can probably get used to this season: different guys leading NC State’s offense from one game to the next. In the opener, it was Devon Daniels pacing the Wolfpack; tonight, Jericole Hellems and Cam Hayes led the charge. There are lots of guys on this team with the potential for impact performances, and that is really encouraging.
NC State was more cohesive offensively in its second game, which is not surprising but nevertheless a comfort to see. North Florida managed to keep itself within arm’s length for most of the first half with some runs here and there, but State never trailed, and when the margin was thin, it never felt like a big deal.
Pace and Efficiency
The Wolfpack closed out the first half strong, led by Jericole Hellems, who scored seven points in the final six minutes, and State pushed what was a five-point edge with 4:46 left to 14 points at the break.
NC State picked up right where it left off to begin the second half, opening with a 12-2 run to blow the game open. Freshman point guard Cam Hayes was a standout performer in the second half, and he finished the night with 13 points on 6-8 shooting, along with six assists and no turnovers.
Manny Bates was a force in the paint, affecting shots as often as he blocked them (and he blocked five). Bates was never in foul trouble—it took 10 minutes of game time for State to get called for a foul—and that allowed him to stay aggressive throughout his time on the floor. That paid off at both ends.
North Florida doesn’t have the athleticism or the inclination to create havoc off the dribble, and with Bates controlling the block, the Ospreys shot just 36.8% inside the arc. State’s defense also did a nice job discouraging UNF from attempting threes. This is a team that would like half of its attempts or more to come from three, and tonight not even a third of their shots came from outside.
It was an outstanding collective effort from the Wolfpack, which scored the ball efficiently and had four guys in double figures at the offensive end, and played the disruptive brand of defense that Kevin Keatts wants.