Quick hits from NC State's 86-75 loss to undefeated Indiana at the RBC Center Wednesday night as part of the ACC-Big 10 Challenge in front of a season-high 16,597 fans.
Play of the game
The game started to get away from NC State in part thanks to a controversial intentional foul with 2:55 left in the game. Indiana had rallied to take a 73-70 lead and Wolfpack sophomore forward C.J. Leslie had one of his game-high five turnovers. Indiana's athletic sophomore wing Victor Oladipo raced down court, and official Earl Walton whistled State for an intentional foul, much to the displeasure of almost everyone in the RBC Center, especially head coach Mark Gottfried.
Oladipo only made one of two free throws, but what happened afterwards hurt as much as the intentional foul. Junior center DeShawn Painter committed the cardinal sin of fouling Indiana junior guard Jordan Hulls, and the Hoosiers sharp shooter made both free throws to give Indiana a 76-70 lead with 2:53 left.
Highlight of the game
NC State was not out of the contest immediately following the three-point swing on the intentional foul, thanks in part to a remarkable block from Leslie. Oladipo drove baseline, a tactic that had worked for Oladipo several times in the second half. Oladipo, a well-renowned leaper, went up strong for a dunk, but he was met by Leslie, perhaps an even better leaper. What resulted was Leslie stuffing Oladipo at the rim, and the Pack converted a fast break layup by senior wing C.J. Williams on the other end to cut Indiana's lead to 76-75 with 2:02 left.
Player of the game
One of the keys of the contest was to not let Hulls find his stroke, and unfortunately for NC State that's exactly what Hulls did. Hulls finished with a season-high and game-high 20 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field, making 3 of 4 three-pointers. He added five assists with just two turnovers, had two steals and grabbed four boards in 36 solid minutes. Hulls made a dagger three-pointer that put Indiana up 79-75 with 1:38 left in the game.
Pack did themselves in
A review of the tape will show where this game turned for NC State. The Pack led 63-56 after a fast break layup by fifth-year senior guard Alex Johnson with 7:48 left in the game. Indiana called a timeout 10 seconds later. Then disaster struck at the free throw line for NCSU.
Indiana junior forward Christian Watford made a pair of free throws with 7:38 left to cut the lead to 63-58. NCSU sophomore guard Lorenzo Brown had a chance to respond, but he missed the front end of the one-and-one 15 seconds later.
Indiana got two free throws from freshman center Cody Zeller to slice the lead to 63-60. The teams traded layups, and then Wolfpack junior forward Richard Howell was fouled with 5:57 to go and State leading 65-62. Howell missed both free throws, and on the other end Oladipo drove baseline for a dunk, cutting the lead to one with 5:45 left.
Howell had a chance to answer in a big way when he was fouled while making a layup with 5:20 left, but once again he missed a free throw. A Zeller layup cut the lead to one again. Brown went back to the line with a chance to answer, but he made just one of two. Zeller's tip-in on a missed layup by Oladipo tied the score with 4:19 left at 68-68.
Indiana was on a 12-5 run, and during that stretch State made just 1 of 6 free throws, and one miss cost State a bonus free throw. Ironically the Pack had made their first 14 free throws of the game before that point. If they shoot better from the line during that stretch, chances are the game would have had a different outcome.
Free throw shooting has been spotty for State this year. The Pack entered Wednesday shooting just 69.6 percent from the line. They ended Wednesday's game 16 of 22, or 72.7 percent.
Brown had a good overall game, finishing with team-highs 19 points and five assists. He also had six rebounds and turned it over just three times in 35 minutes. Brown was just two points off the career high he set last Friday night against Elon.
Leslie had the first double-double of his season with 10 points and 11 rebounds. He also had three impressive blocks. Leslie was the third player to have a double-double in a game this year for the Pack, joining Howell and Painter.
Zeller came on strong in the second half for Indiana, scoring 13 of his 19 points after intermission. He also had seven rebounds and two blocks in front of his parents, who may have had the least-liked outfit in the RBC Center. The Zellers, whose son Tyler Zeller is a senior center at UNC, wore a half Indiana, half UNC shirt. They were hoping to make it over the the Dean Dome to catch Tyler's game against Wisconsin after the State-Indiana game.
What the loss means
NC State falls to 5-2 overall while Indiana improved to 7-0. Indiana has won all three games against the Wolfpack that the two teams have played, two of them in Raleigh. The Pack falls to 5-7 all-time in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge and have now lost four games in a row in the series. The Pack is 4-2 in the RBC Center in the challenge, the other loss coming to Northwestern in 2009.
This is just the second time in the past 11 seasons that State has lost twice in the month of November, but in defense of this team the schedule this November has been noticeably tougher.
Spotted at the game
One of the biggest cheers from the night came when NC State head football coach Tom O'Brien was shown on the scoreboard late in the second half.
Other stats of note
- NC State outscored Indiana 38-32 in the paint.
- The Pack outrebounded the Hoosies 40-37 overall and 18-12 on the offensive glass. State had an 18-12 edge in second-chance points. It should be noted though that IU had a 24-18 rebounding advantage in the second half, including 7-5 on the offensive glass.
- NC State lost the turnover margin 15-13 and Indiana parlayed that into a 23-15 edge in points off turnovers.
- Indiana had a 20-16 edge in fast break points.
- State's reserves outscored Indiana's bench 16-13.