Blog: NC State gets past Xavier in NCAA First Four game, 74-59
Posted March 18
FINAL: NC State 74, Xavier 59: Led by TJ Warren’s 25 points, NC State beat Xavier Tuesday in Dayton in an opening round game of the NCAA tournament, 74-59. The Wolfpack advance to play No. 5 seed St. Louis in Orlando Thursday.
3:49 2nd: NC State 64, Xavier 52: Tyler Lewis has just one turnover with his seven assists and TJ Warren has 22 points as the Pack lead is now 12 at the final media break.
7:56 2nd: NC State 57, Xavier 47: TJ Warren is up to 21 points as the Wolfpack has seen their lead grow to double digits at the under-8 timeout.
Tyler Lewis has added six assists to aid in the growth of the lead.
10:45 2nd: NC State 51, Xavier 42: TJ Warren has three steals, two rebounds and 17 points as the Wolfpack have opened up a 9-point lead on Xavier midway through the second half. Warren has eight of the Pack's last 12 points.
Xavier also has 12 turnovers, leading to over a third of the Pack's points.
14:50 2nd: NC State 43, Xavier 37: Overcoming three early turnovers in the second half, NC State has maintained a six-point lead on Xavier with the help of 11 points from TJ Warren and 10 from Ralston Turner.
Of concern for NC State, Kyle Washington has gone to the bench with his third foul.
HALF: NC State 34, Xavier 28: TJ Warren is one of three NC State players with two fouls at the half, but also leads the team with nine points at the break as the Pack lead Xavier, 34-28.
Matt Stainbrook leads all Xavier scorers with 12 points. The Musketeers have eight turnovers.
Eight of the nine NC State players to see the court have scored - only Lennard Freeman, who is tied for the team-high with two rebounds, has not.
2:43 1st: NC State 27, Xavier 24: Xavier is shooting 50 percent from the floor in the first half, but the difference is their seven turnovers as the Wolfpack lead by three at the final media break before intermission.
TJ Warren has also emerged to lead the team in scoring with seven points while six other Pack players have found the scoring column.
Xavier is without a bench point but all five starters are on the board.
7:45 1st: NC State 22, Xavier 14: TJ Warren, playing with two early fouls, has returned to the court to score four points and the Pack are up by eight at the under-8 timeout.
NC State is also being helped by five Xavier turnovers.
11:49: NC State 14, Xavier 12: Tyler Lewis and Ralston Turner have each hit three-pointers to help keep NC State in front despite Warren's foul troubles as the Pack lead by two midway thru the 1st.
With Warren on the bench, NC State has shown a three-guard look and has two bench points from Desmond Lee.
Xavier has gone just six deep, but has three turnovers and zero bench points.
15:45 1st: NC State 9, Xavier 8: TJ Warren has zero points and two fouls at the first media break, but Kyle Washington has been able to pick up the slack so far with six points as the Pack lead by one.
Xavier's Matt Stainbrook also has six points to keep the Musketeers close.
20:00 1st: NC State vs. Xavier: NC State will trot out their regulars of Vandenberg, Lewis, Warren, Washington and Turner as they 12 v. 12 play-in game gets underway.
In an NCAA Tournament first-round matchup that will determine which team gets the 12th seed in the Midwest Region of the bracket, the ACC's NC State Wolfpack and Big East's Xavier Musketeers will battle it out for the vacant position Tuesday at UD Arena in Dayton.
The winner advances through the first round and will clash with the fifth- seeded Saint Louis Billikens.
NC State made some waves in the ACC Tournament over the weekend by defeating Miami-Florida and then Syracuse to advance to the conference's semifinal round. The Wolfpack were taken down by Duke, 75-67, and were considered one of the most on-the-fence teams when it came to the tournament's selection.
Xavier narrowly edged out Marquette in the Big East Tournament's quarterfinal round, but lost to Creighton, 86-78, in the semifinals. The Musketeers will need to prove their way into the field of 64.
This will be the first-ever meeting between NC State and Xavier. Each team has a deep history in the NCAA Tournament, however. The Wolfpack own a 34-21 all-time record in the tournament, and were present in last season's round of 64. Xavier comes in at 21-23 all-time, and made it to the Sweet 16 back in 2012.
NC State and Duke had quite the battle going in Saturday's ACC Tournament semifinal, as the Blue Devils had just a one-point lead over the Wolfpack at the end of the first half. But Duke's defense stepped it up in the second frame by holding the Wolfpack to 35.5 percent shooting from the floor as the Blue Devils ended NC State's quest for a conference title. T.J. Warren has been spectacular this season, and is now the program's all-time leader in a single season with 29 20-plus point contests. He had 21 with eight rebounds to lead the Wolfpack against Duke (his 17th consecutive 20-point game), while Lennard Freeman chipped in 13 points with nine boards and Anthony Barber scored 12 in the loss. N.C. State couldn't keep Duke from netting 57.1 percent of the team's shot attempts in the game.
Warren's beastly season has led to much acclaim as he could very well enter the NBA after this season, earning ACC Player of the Year. The athletic forward is averaging an astounding 24.8 ppg for the Wolfpack, proving to be the go-to scorer when a basket is needed. He also leads the team with a 7.2 rpg average, and adds 57 steals to his season resume. Ralston Turner is the only other player on the Wolfpack roster to average a double-digit point total, netting 10.2 ppg. Barber tops the squad with 124 assists, and BeeJay Anya leads with 40 blocked shots. NC State averages 70.8 ppg through 33 games played, and gives up 69.5 ppg to opponents.
Things looked bad for Xavier early on against Creighton in the Big East Tournament semifinals, as the Bluejays took a 45-33 lead into the intermission. But the Musketeers formed a comeback attempt in the second period, and started to cut into the lead as time went on. However, Creighton, behind the nation's leading scorer Doug McDermott and his 32-point effort, was able to fend off Xavier down the stretch. Forward Isaiah Philmore scored a career-high 23 points for Xavier, while Semaj Christon chipped in 18 points with six assists in the loss. Justin Martin added 12 points before he fouled out of the contest.
Christon, who has had his name mentioned in NBA talks as well, leads the Musketeers in scoring on the season with a 17.1 ppg average, netting 47.7 percent of his shots from the floor. He adds 138 assists on the year (second to Dee Davis's 147), and leads the team with 44 steals. Martin contributes 11.8 ppg for the Musketeers, and center Matt Stainbrook, who missed some time at the beginning of the conference tournament with a strained calf, adds 10.4 ppg with a team-leading 7.3 rpg mark. Xavier averages 72.2 ppg and allows 67.9 ppg to opponents.
This matchup is intriguing as two teams from power conferences collide for the first time in their histories. The Cincinnati-based Xavier team gets the home- state advantage, but it seems no one can contain Warren. He'll need some help to get past a solid offensive team like the Musketeers, but NC State (4-1 in its last six games) will rise to the challenge.