Talking Points: Hack-A-Pack sinks NC State
Posted March 20, 2014
Updated March 21, 2014
1. Free throws, NC State. You're doing it wrong.
St. Louis used a methodical "Hack-A-Pack" strategy to outscore State 31-15 in the final eight minutes of regulation. NC State's trips to the line became a dicey proposition following Ralston Turner's three successful free throws that put the Wolfpack up 50-37 with 9:51 left. The Wolfpack missed 11 of their next 20 attempts.
Even a made free throw from T.J. Warren late in the game was taken off the board after the sophomore committed a lane violation. It was just that sort of night for the Wolfpack, who also couldn't establish consistent success breaking St. Louis' press during critical stretches.
The Billikens finally took their first lead since 16:18 of the first half in the opening minute of overtime. With NC State playing tentative due to foul trouble, St. Louis established a layup line to keep them out in front until the final buzzer.
2. NC State was playing their fifth game in eight days in three different cities. Was that a factor against St. Louis, who enjoyed a normal lead up to the second round of the NCAA Tournament? Fatigue might have played a part in the Wolfpack's inconsistent free throw rate and defensive lapses from the regular season popping up again at the worst possible time.
However, those are just excuses. NC State should have survived and advanced into the weekend.
Even with the Pack up 14 points with 5:03 left in regulation, St. Louis managed to linger. It wasn't just the missed free throws. The Billikens also hit nine shots from beyond the arc.
3. St. Louis had a defense ranked first in most defensive categories in the A-10. Although it’s not clear whether those rankings were in basketball or football.
The Billikens were physical. To the point where officials should have thrown some yellow flags onto the court following an arm to the face of Cat Barber and what could have been targeting on TJ Warren getting banged around.
4. Despite the physical play, Warren managed to score 28 points on 11-of-22 shooting from the field. It was the sophomore's 19th straight game with 20 or more points, complimented by eight rebounds and a few steals. It wasn't a flawless game for Warren, who picked up his fourth and fifth fouls in interesting fashion.
Was that the last game in a Wolfpack uniform for Warren? Highly probable. The ACC Player of the Year saw his "stock" soar in the final week of the regular season and a national audience finally appreciated his ability to make plays all over the court. NBA Draft gurus have Warren going in the middle of the first round, but he could go slightly higher teams get a better look at him during workouts.
If that's it for Warren, NC State fans will remember this season for some time. He was truly a joy to watch and continued the legacy of wearing No. 24.
5. St. Louis' Rob Loe learned something, too. He learned that a flawless profile, a perfect body, the right clothes, and a great car can get you far in America - almost to the top - but it can't get you everything. You also need some help from the opponent, which did NC State by giving him open looks from perimeter and letting Loe drive the basket.
Jordair Jett also gets special mention for scoring 17 points after halftime.
6. See you in my nightmares, Billiken.