After the worst loss of the Kevin Keatts era, the Pack rebounded on Saturday with an encouraging 77-73 victory at Notre Dame.
The Pack was looking for some important corrections in its half court approach after being baffled by some zone defense in the last two games. Notre Dame surprised no one by going to the area early and often, but the State brought a much more organized and intentional attack to South Bend.
Even without point guard Markell Johnson, the Pack moved the ball much better and the selection of shots improved drastically from what we saw on Tuesday night. Keatts used the midrange game of Torin Dorn effectively within the zone in the second half, the ball did not stick as much as he did and the decrease in the state in the three-point shooting volume correlated with his higher efficiency in the half court.
C.J. Bryce and Devon Daniels were brought in to be collectors, and State has been looking for a more efficient game of those two throughout the season. Bryce brought him today with what was easily his best game of the season. The junior wing was 5/5 of three and dropped 23 points, leading all the scorers. Daniels was the second on the team to score with 15, including some free throws in the final stretch. More of this, please, without the horrible floating Daniels loves.
State also got good final minutes of D.J. Funderburk, which continues to ooze with potential. The tall lanky forward had two critical buckets in the final minutes to help seal the game and should probably be inserted into the starting lineup soon, or at least watch a few more minutes.
The Pack played with much more energy in defense and made enough plays for that purpose to keep Notre Dame with fewer points than State. The pack is still obsessed by its inability to protect itself from the rebound (perhaps this was the reason for Lockett's insertion in the initial lineup) and its overlap in defense, but Notre Dame went cold in three, firing only 7/28 , and the State did it. enough to keep them at bay.
NC State is still developing chemistry as a team and has some staffing shortcomings, so it probably will not go over many teams this year, but the Pack played a smart game and learned of Tuesday's disaster, and it's hard not to. . be encouraged by that Great victory for the Pack and well-trained game in general.