Rushed Reactions: #12 NC State 74, #12 Xavier 59

Posted by Steve Smith on March 18th, 2014

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Three Key Takeaways in NC State’s First Four win.

TJ Warren Started Slowly But Came On Strong When It Mattered Most (credit: RNO)

TJ Warren Started Slowly But Came On Strong When It Mattered Most (credit: RNO)

  1. A balanced attack without T.J. Warren stealing the show. NC State was in control for seemingly the entire game, even when Xavier went on a several runs that threatened to challenge them. Once again, Ralston Turner, who finished the night with 17 points, stepped up when TJ Warren struggled early. And Tyler Lewis did his part to fill in for an ailing Anthony Barber, who played only eight first half minutes due to a fever and stomach illness. Lewis contributed seven points and eight assists, the final of which capped off the evening with a lob to Jordan Vandenburg for a dunk.
  2. NC State is not the same team without T.J. Warren on the floor. Even though several others stepped up for Mark Gottfried tonight, the team really struggled when Warren went out early in the first half with two fouls. After his return, NC State went on a quick 10-2 run to widen the lead to 22-14. When he was out again in the second half, Xavier went on another run, but upon his return he quickly scored on a fadeaway runner and on an emphatic one-handed dunk within the first minute. NC State’s fortunes for the rest of this NCAA Tournament will completely depend on how far Warren carries it — he’s that good.
  3. Xavier shot 14 percent from three-point range. Xavier came into this game shooting 35 percent from distance on the year as a team, but they missed several key open looks down the stretch that could have kept them afloat. With Warren doing his thing on the other end, the Musketeers needed to keep pace and all of the bricked threes simply wouldn’t allow for it. A reasonable nine-point margin quickly shot up to an unmanageable 17-point difference as a result of all those missed threes down the stretch.

Star of the Game. T.J. Warren, NC State – Warren quietly scored 25 points on 10-of-18 shooting from the floor, and used a two-steal, four-point flurry in just over a minute of action during the mid-second half to put NC State up by nine points and in firm control of the game. He had a relatively slow first half (in T.J. Warren terms) with only nine points, but he came alive in the second half with 16 more, stretching his streak of consecutive games with 20 or more points to 18 straight.

Quotable.

  • “We definitely belong here. We’re not going to worry too much about what they’re saying. Continue to play our game and rack up wins” – NC State’s T.J. Warren, when asked if it bothered him that a number of national pundits felt NC State shouldn’t have been awarded a bid.
  • “We picked the wrong night to play bad” – Xavier head coach Chris Mack.
  • “Playing time is not like Halloween candy. Just because you have a uniform on doesn’t mean you automatically get some.” – Mack, referring to a quote from his  mentor, former Xavier and Wake Forest coach, Skip Prosser.

What’s Next? NC State travels to Orlando to take on #5 seed St. Louis on Thursday in a second round Midwest Regional match-up that many people are slotting as one of the #5/#12 upsets after this performance.

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