Lots of times the final score doesn’t really tell the tale of a game, and I think this one is mostly instructive; but see, the thing about NC State’s comfortable 90-74 win over Wake Forest on Wednesday night is that it totally obscures what an incredible first half these teams played.
High-level offense, DJ Burns getting into his shit early, Tyree Appleby hitting his first three three-point attempts, Jarkel Joiner getting whatever and anything he wanted at the rim. I swear Wake Forest was so locked in that those guys did not miss a shot in the first 10 minutes; now, that’s factually incorrect, but that’s what it felt like.
The first half, as it happened, was a perfect encapsulation of Wake at large, the Deacs distilled to their essence: they went on an insane shooting tear, just could not miss a jumper, but also could not build any sort of lead because of their indifferent defense.
DJ Burns got the crowd working and State moving initially, but the first half belonged to Jarkel Joiner, who scored 29 points in what ended up being a pretty dominant performance by State. Joiner was unstoppable; just a man on a mission, making everything at the rim and hitting mid-range shots at will.
As nuts as the first half was, both teams were bound to cool in the second, and they did, and the game got a little sloppy in its back-and-forth, but State was far more disruptive defensively, and that ultimately threw Wake out of this one.
Turnovers were a big part of State building the lead it did in the second half, and it helped that Wake went chilly from three; Wake finished 12-30 from three on the night, and I’d swear they were 12-14 in the first half. Felt that way.
While both teams lost the plot at times in the second half, NC State was better able to get through those points thanks to its versatility—it could always hand the ball off to the big guy, which it once again did at every opportunity. What a luxury that is, to throw it on over to DJ, knowing there’s nothing the other team can do about it, except try to run some poor-man’s UVA doubles.
And those mostly did not work. At any rate, this wasn’t the sort of night where good post defense was going to translate into good perimeter defense, or at least not effective perimeter defense, because Jarkel Joiner was there to put the game plan in a blender.
NC State is 22-7.