Well, if before the tip you’d given me an even ballgame with eight minutes left, I definitely would have taken it. I wanted to see NC State compete and have a chance at pulling the upset down the stretch, and that’s what I got. Getting this win would have been great, but for now, the hard-fought loss is good enough to keep me encouraged about what this team can do.
Pace and Efficiency
State was competitive on the glass and played KU even in the turnover department, but the Wolfpack just didn’t shoot the ball well enough to get the victory. Casey Morsell was absolutely tremendous on his way to 21 points, but Terquavion Smith and Jarkell Joiner combined to shoot 11-30 from the field. (Though they did combine for 12-14 at the free throw line.)
And Kansas had Grady Dick, who came to the rescue for the Jayhawks with six first-half threes as the team struggled inside the arc. It was an unusually poor shooting day in the paint for KU, which shot just 37.8% on twos—easily its worst mark of the season. The Jayhawks hadn’t been held below 53.8% prior to this. That’s encouraging. NC State also didn’t let KU bail itself out with a bunch of offensive boards, which is also encouraging.
KU’s accuracy from three and all of those free throw trips ended up too much for NC State to overcome.
It didn’t take anything fluky for the Pack to stay in this game, and the guys were able to fight back from a bad finish to the opening half to take it right at KU to begin the second. The energy was there; the execution, not so much. And that’s okay.
Now, NC State needs to grab a couple games out of the losers’ bracket and make this a successful trip. In the next game, State very well may be playing an opponent that will be on the NCAA bubble along with the Pack come March. Ditto the game after that. These games are all important, and State needs to respond accordingly.
It’ll be the Dayton-Wisconsin loser tomorrow at 4 p.m. on ESPNNEWS.