Rapid Reaction: NC State 69, UConn 65

December, 5, 2012

NEW YORK -- Quick thoughts from North Carolina State's 69-65 victory over Connecticut in Tuesday's second game of the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden:

What it means: NC State picked up its best win of the season, and perhaps quieted its critics some, in sending UConn to its second loss.

The Wolfpack (5-2), ranked No. 6 to start the season and picked to win the ACC, had lost two of their previous three -- to Oklahoma State (by 20) in the final of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, and at No. 3 Michigan (by seven).

UConn (6-2) is playing better than expected and battled to the very end in this game. The Huskies, despite not being eligible for the postseason, are going to give a lot of teams trouble.

The turning point: UConn came out hot, thanks to Shabazz Napier, who scored the team’s first 10 points. The Huskies led by 11, 20-9, with eight minutes and change gone by. But NC State responded with an 8-0 run from that point. The Wolfpack led 32-31 at halftime, thanks to Lorenzo Brown’s floater at the first-half buzzer.

The game remained tight in the second half. With the score tied at 53 and less than six minutes left, NC State went on a 6-0 spurt, capped by a C.J. Leslie slam dunk on the break. UConn stayed within striking distance -- Ryan Boatright’s 3-pointer with just less than two minutes remaining cut it to 61-58. But the Huskies couldn’t get stops when they needed them down the stretch.

Player of the game: UConn had no answer for NC State’s twin towers, Leslie and Richard Howell.

Howell scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half and had 10 rebounds -- seven of them on the offensive glass. Leslie had 16 points and 13 boards. Those two are a handful.

Napier finished with a game-high 19 for UConn but scored only four points in the second half. Boatright added 18 points.

Key stat: NC State had 11 offensive rebounds in the second half and scored 16 second-chance points with them. That was the difference in the game.

What’s next: NC State will host Cleveland State on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET -- a game that will be played at the old Reynolds Coliseum, as opposed to PNC Arena. UConn hosts Harvard on Friday night at 7 p.m. at Gampel Pavilion.
Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
Follow Kieran on Twitter »



You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?