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NCAA Basketball ACC BasketballNC State Wolfpack

North Carolina State Wolfpack Bounce Back From Loss With Ugly Win Over Clemson

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

 

The North Carolina State Wolfpack hung on to get back into the win column with a 66-62 victory over the Clemson Tigers.

The Wolfpack avenged a 72-69 overtime defeat last season in Clemson, while also maintaining their perfect home record, improving to 15-3 overall and 4-1 in conference play.

The win is a nice bounce back after N.C. State’s disappointing 51-50 loss to the Maryland Terrapins in their previous outing. The Wolfpack shot 31.1 percent from the field as a team in the contest and came out determined against Clemson.

N.C. State opened the game with a 10-0 advantage, helped by two quick three-pointers by freshman Rodney Purvis. The Wolfpack cooled off after the hot start, allowing Clemson to get back into the game, but never trailed in the contest being led on offense by another freshman, T.J. Warren.

Warren went scoreless against the Terrapins after shooting 0 for 6 from the floor. By half-time against the Tigers, the 6-foot-8 forward had 14 points after shooting 6 for 7 from the field. He finished with 21 points, and six rebounds while shooting 9 for 11 from the floor.

N.C. State’s two impressive freshmen, Warren and Purvis, combined for only three points after shooting 1 for 13 from the field versus Maryland. Against Clemson, the duo combined for 32 points on 13 of 18 shooting.  .

Richard Howell was his usual double-double self, recording 11 points and 12 rebounds to go along with four assists. The senior continues to be one of the most underrated players in the nation. Meanwhile, Lorenzo Brown continues to be one of the most confusing players in the country.

Brown finished with six points, seven rebounds, five assists, two steals and three turnovers, however, his stat line doesn’t show his true performance. The junior guard is one of the best point guards in the nation, but every game has a moment or two that leaves you scratching your head. Brown is capable of controlling a game on his own, given all the different ways he can contribute, but his decision making is questionable at times.

One moment he plays too quick and rushes a pass that leads to a turnover, then the next he’s stolen the ball back on his own and dished out a pass for an assist. Brown plays at a fast pace which is no doubt one of his strengths. However, he’s too prone to forcing a pass into a small window of opportunity with minimal chance of success. If he can learn to dial it back a notch and remove those brain cramp errors, there would be little debate as to who the best point guard is in the country.

Another factor that plagued the Wolfpack in this contest was C.J. Leslie’s lack of field goal attempts. He finished with only six points after shooting only seven attempts from the floor, three fewer than his season average. That is unacceptable for one of the most talented players in the country. For N.C. State to be successful they need to put the ball into Leslie’s hands. Instead the team is putting more focus on forcing up three-pointers than using their advantage in the post with Leslie and Howell. That is something that must change or poor performances like the one against Maryland will be duplicated in a hurry. It nearly was with the Wolfpack hosting Clemson.

N.C. State has the most talent at every position than any other team in the conference but they are still struggling to get everybody involved. They’ve seen multiple game-by-game scoring leaders, but that will only spell trouble come March. Leslie needs to be the main guy on offense for the Wolfpack to have success this season and for the past two games he’s finished third on the team in field goal attempts.

It’s hard for a team with championship aspirations to achieve their goals when two players are shooting more than the team’s most talented player.

Michael covers ACC and Big East basketball along with the Toronto Raptors for Rant Sports, you can follow him on Twitter @MichaelxRoberts