NC State’s Daniels found his game; coach Kevin Keatts saw it com­ing

The News & Observer - - Sports - BY JOE GIGLIO [email protected]­sob­

Kevin Keatts no­ticed the way Devon Daniels prac­ticed in the days be­fore N.C. State’s game with West­ern Carolina at Reynolds Coli­seum.

“I thought he was locked in,” Keatts said.

To the point that Keatts made a pre­dic­tion.

“I told my as­sis­tant coaches that he would have a great game in here,” Keatts said.

Daniels did, with a sea­son- high 21 points in N.C. State’s 100-67 win over the Cata­mounts. The 6-5, 200-pound sopho­more guard made three 3-point­ers and played with con­fi­dence.

Now Keatts has an idea of how to keep the trans­fer guard from Utah on a roll.

“I’m go­ing to pe­ti­tion to see if we can play half of our ACC games in Reynolds,” Keatts said.

That’s not go­ing to hap­pen, but Daniels would like to keep the hot hand. The Wolf­pack (8-1) faces Penn State (4-4) in the Board­walk Clas­sic in At­lantic City, N.J., on Dec 15 (2 p.m., ESPNU).

Daniels had strug­gled be­fore the out­burst against WCU. In the first eight games of the sea­son, he av­er­aged 8.1 points a game. He made 37.5 per­cent (24 of 64) of his field goals and was 22.2 per­cent from the 3-point line (6 of 27).

“I think I was just over­think­ing it,” Daniels said. “I was just

wor­ried about try­ing to get com­fort­able. When I just set­tled down, kept it sim­ple, trust the of­fense, it came a lot eas­ier.”

Daniels kept it sim­ple against WCU. He showed off his midrange game and was ag­gres­sive. He had 16 points in the first half, while the rest of N.C. State’s lineup got off to a slow start.

With Markell John­son, Torin Dorn and C.J. Bryce get­ting off to a strong start, Daniels has tried to find his niche.

At Utah, he av­er­aged 9.9 points and 4.6 re­bounds as a fresh­man in 2016-17. He prac­ticed with the Wolf­pack last sea­son but had to sit out un­der NCAA rules.

He is one of nine new­com­ers on N.C. State’s ros­ter this sea­son and one of five el­i­gi­ble trans­fers.

Sopho­more guard Blake Har­ris, a Mis­souri trans­fer, had a sea­son-high 15 points in the win over WCU. Keatts was asked about Har­ris’ break­out scor­ing game.

“Be­cause we have so many new pieces, one by one you’ll see guys start to play a lit­tle bit bet­ter be­cause they’re start­ing to get com­fort­able with the sys­tem,” Keatts said.

The same can said of Daniels. The more com­fort­able he gets, the bet­ter off N.C. State will be.

ETHAN HY­MAN ehy­[email protected]­sob­

N.C. State’s Devon Daniels had a sea­son-high 21 points against West­ern Carolina on Wed­nes­day.

ETHAN HY­MAN ehy­[email protected]­sob­

N.C. State coach Kevin Keatts cheers dur­ing N.C. State’s 100-67 vic­tory over West­ern Carolina on Wed­nes­day.

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