Wolf­pack coach: Of­fense is fine

The Herald Sun - - Sports - BY JOE GIGLIO [email protected]­sob­server.com

N.C. State didn’t shoot par­tic­u­larly well against North Carolina and its top two scor­ers strug­gled.

But coach Kevin Keatts didn’t leave the Wolf­pack’s loss to UNC on Tues­day and think the of­fense was a prob­lem.

“When you score 82 points, that’s enough to win the game,” Keatts said.

Usu­ally for Keatts’ teams, 82 points gets the job done. In his sec­ond sea­son at N.C. State, the Wolf­pack is 24-4 when it scores 82 points or more. Add in Keatts’ three sea­sons at UNCWilm­ing­ton, and his coach­ing record is 56-7 when his teams get to 82 (and 50-35 when they don’t).

He’d like to add an­other win to that list on Sat­ur­day against a re­ju­ve­nated Pitts­burgh (11-4, 1-1) pro­gram.

N.C. State shot rel­a­tively poorly in the 90-82 loss to the Tar Heels on Tues­day. The Wolf­pack shot a sea­son-low 42.5

per­cent (31 of 73), in­clud­ing just 28.6 per­cent from the 3-point line (828).

Se­nior Torin Dorn (12 points), the team’s lead­ing scorer on the sea­son, didn’t hit his sea­son av­er­age against UNC and nei­ther did ju­nior guard Markell John­son (11).

N.C. State was helped by a stand­out scor­ing ef­fort off the bench by guard Brax­ton Bev­erly (21 points) and for­ward D.J. Fun­der­burk (15). The Wolf­pack bench outscored UNC 43-9.

Bev­erly was the only Wolf­pack player to make more than one 3-pointer. He went 5 of 7, the rest of the team was 3 of 21.

Of­fense hasn’t been a prob­lem this sea­son for the Wolf­pack. N.C. State ranks No. 7 in the coun­try in scor­ing av­er­age (88.7 points per game) and No. 5 in field goal per­cent­age (51.3).

Pitt, in its first sea­son un­der for­mer Duke as­sis­tant Jeff Capel, has hung its hat on the de­fen­sive end. The Panthers are No. 43 in de­fen­sive ef­fi­ciency in Ken Pomeroy’s rank­ings.

Capel led the Panthers to their first ACC win since the 2017 ACC tour­na­ment. The Panthers beat Louisville 89-86 in over­time on Wed­nes­day. Pitt had lost 23 straight reg­u­lar-sea­son con­fer­ence games.

Capel has re­built the ros­ter and found two good young guards in Xavier John­son (16.5 ppg) and Trey McGowens (13.8 ppg).

Keatts be­lieves his team will be ready for the Panthers and will not dwell on the UNC loss.

Af­ter a 79-75 loss at Wis­con­sin on Nov. 27, N.C. State reeled off seven straight wins be­fore Tues­day.

“You’ll find out a lot about a team in how you bounce back,” Keatts said.

ETHAN HY­MAN ehy­[email protected]­sob­server.com

N.C. State’s DJ Fun­der­burk blocks the shot by North Carolina’s Coby White on Tues­day. The Wolf­pack host Pitt on Sat­ur­day.

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