Quick hits and notes from NC State's thrilling 80-78 last-second victory over Georgia Tech in front of 14,120 frenzied fans at the PNC Arena Sunday afternoon.
Play of the game
See video of sophomore forward T.J. Warren's game-winning shot with 6.2 seconds left in overtime.:
Highlight of the game
Hard to argue with the game-winner since it was a high-degree-of-difficulty basket made by Warren, so that goes for the highlight of the game.
However, there were several other plays for the highlight reel, including fifth-year senior Jordan Vandenberg's block of fellow fifth-year senior center Daniel Miller of Georgia Tech on a layup attempt with 1:23 left in overtime.
Player of the game
Sophomore point guard Tyler Lewis' season has not gone as he probably expected. After starting the first four games, Lewis had been relegated to freshman Anthony Barber's reserve and at times playing as few as five minutes in a game, which he has done on four occasions this year.
Lewis though, after playing just three minutes in the first half, was a huge spark in the second half and was singled out by head coach Mark Gottfried after the game. Lewis connected on back-to-back three-pointers with less than 15 minutes left to cut a 52-41 Georgia Tech lead, which was its largest of the game, down to 54-47 and started what would be a surge of sorts for NCSU to get back into the game.
Lewis would rarely come off the court after that. He finished with 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting, including 2 of 3 on three-pointers, in 17 minutes and also had three assists and a steal with just one turnover. This was Lewis' first double-digit scoring game since he had 15 in the season-opening win over Appalachian State Nov. 8.
Key plays by so many
Warren will get credit for the game-winner, and Lewis gets credit for the huge spark off the bench when NCSU desperately needed it after falling behind 11 points early in the second half.
However, it was a balanced effort for NC State with four players in double figures for the first time since a seven-point win at Notre Dame Jan. 7 and sixth time overall this year. Nearly every player that saw the court for NCSU Sunday afternoon had a role at key times in the win:
- Vandenberg patiently waited for the right bounce to fall off the rim on redshirt junior wing Ralston Turner's missed three to tap it in for the Pack, giving State a 76-74 lead in overtime with 4:36 remaining.
- Turner's three with 2:08 left cut a 72-67 Georgia Tech lead down to two just when it appeared that the Jackets were going to pull out the win.
- Junior wing Desmond Lee, coming off the bench for the first time this season, had the put back basket off Warren's second miss of the possession to tie the game at 72-72 with 22.5 seconds left, eventually forcing overtime. Then Lee drew the charge on Georgia Tech redshirt freshman guard Corey Heyward with 2.5 seconds left in overtime moments after Warren's clinching runner.
- Freshman center BeeJay Anya made three of four free throws and played solidly for a 12-minute stretch in the second half that coincided with the Wolfpack's run to get back into the game.
- Barber had a nice runner that cut Georgia Tech's lead to 61-60, setting up Lee's fast break drive with 7:10 left to give the Wolfpack its first lead since they were up 23-22 with 7:44 on the clock in the first half.
- Freshman power forwards Lennard Freeman and Kyle Washington combined to score 14 points and grab six rebounds, and offensively were a significant part of the Pack's attack in the first half.
Zone pays off
Gottfried explained that while on a recruiting trip Friday he watched video of the Miami-Georgia Tech game on his Ipad. He noticed then that Georgia Tech struggled against Miami's zone during a 14-point loss at home to the Hurricanes.
As Gottfried said, "When you have a hunch, bet a bunch."
The coach decided to play almost exclusively zone for most of the second half, and for good reason. Tech, who entered the game ranked 11th in the league in field goal shooting at 44.0 percent, had shot 13 of 26 for 50.0 percent in the first 20 minutes and opened up after halftime scoring on their first four possessions before Gottfried called a timeout.
The result was the Yellow Jackets cooling off significantly. Tech ended the game shooting just 43.1 percent, going 13 of 32 in the second half and only 2 of 7 in overtime.
The one negative to the zone was the rebounding. Tech had a 42-31 edge on the glass against NCSU, including grabbing 16 boards which resulted in 18 second chance points (compared to 12 for State). Only Virginia outrebounded NC State by a larger margin this year (plus-12).
Leading the way in the paint for Tech was Miller. He had 21 points and 14 rebounds. Fans at the PNC Arena may have expected that however. It was Miller's second straight double-double at the Raleigh venue, and in four career games on State's court, Miller has averaged 12.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks.
What the win means
NC State gets a second straight much needed win and improves to 13-7 overall and 3-4 in the ACC. In a bit of irony, NC State also upped its record to 13-7 all-time on games played on the date of Jan. 26.
Georgia Tech falls to 11-9 and 2-5 in the conference. The Pack leads the overall series with Tech 55-37 and has dominated in Raleigh, 31-9. State has also won four straight against Tech.
NC State is 1-1 in overtime games this season, having dropped an earlier contest to North Carolina Central. This was Georgia Tech's first extra session game of the year, but they fell to 0-3 all-time in overtime games under third-year head coach Brian Gregory.
Other stats of note
- NC State had a 40-26 edge in points in the paint.
- Both teams got good production from their bench, with NCSU holding a 30-19 advantage.
- NC State had more steals (7-5) and less turnovers (10-14), so it's no surprise that State had a 13-8 edge in points off turnovers and 14-9 advantage in fast break points.