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NC State falls to Virginia, 64-57

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NCAA Basketball: N.C. State at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Fits and starts, fits and starts; it’s NC State basketball in 2021, an incomplete picture incapable of a strong finish. It’s the problem with youth, and also when you have vets who are good but not true standouts.

Jericole Hellems did his best to pull this thing out, finishing with 23 points on 9-15 shooting. It was one of the best games he’s played, if not the best, considering the opposing defense. He was great. He has been great in stepping into a primary role with Devon Daniels out.

But there’s just not enough elsewhere, and it doesn’t help when DJ Funderburk spends an entire half in some headspace that is three planets over. Hellems has been exceptional and Manny Bates is getting better and better, but the margin is slight for this team because its backcourt is bad right now. The freshmen are learning, and tonight was an important step, but the lack of playmaking ability there is crushing the offense. That ain’t new.

I don’t know how you configure it differently moving forward. I think Kevin Keatts had the right idea starting Dereon Seabron at the point, but he didn’t see that through, and we got too many stuck-in-concrete possessions with Beverly and Allen in the backcourt, flipping the ball back and forth like some sadistic circus act.

It did not work out, despite Funderburk playing a lot better in the second half, and NC State dominating the glass. Because, again, that margin is slight. I think we could dive well on into the minute details of a game like this, if we wanted to, but the lack of playmaking in the backcourt is a crusher. And you gotta make shots, as a wise man once said.