Thursday, December 9, 2021

SPORTS UPDATE: Wolfpack dominate Spartans in paint

March 15, 2002
Freshman guard Tim Bograkos fights for the ball with junior forward Al Anagonye and a group of N.C. State players in the second half of the 69-58 loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Washington, D.C., on Friday. MSU led the Wolfpack 30-18 at the half, but gave up 51 second-half points in the loss. —

Washington - In the game of basketball, size and strength play large roles, and the Spartans held a distinct advantage over North Carolina State in each category.

But it was the Wolfpack (23-11) who prevailed 69-58 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at MCI Center on Friday.

The smaller N.C. State team was known for its back-door cuts and three-point shooting coming into Friday’s showdown, but it was in the paint where the Wolfpack did the most damage.

The paint, where size and strength dominate, is where N.C. State outscored the bigger and stronger Spartans 32-10.

“Points in the paint are always important,” Wolfpack head coach Herb Sendek said. “I think it’s something both teams emphasize.”

Despite putting an emphasis on points in the paint, Sendek admits the Wolfpack lack the traditional post players.

“We don’t get a lot of post-up, back-to-the-basket type of points in the paint,” he said. “We get points in the paint a lot of different ways - sometimes unconventional ways.”

Throughout the season, the unconventional method utilized by N.C. State was the back-door cut - a play setup by steady three-point shooting. But in the first half, MSU didn’t allow either.

The Spartans held the Wolfpack to a first-half season-low 18 points on 6-of-24 shooting. With impressive defense, MSU entered halftime with a 30-18 advantage.

“We really had a difficult time cracking them,” Sendek said. “I was immensely proud of how our guys responded in the second half.”

MSU head coach Tom Izzo said in the second half the Wolfpack turned to dribble penetration, and the Spartans had no defensive answers.

“They didn’t beat us with back cuts, and they didn’t beat us with threes,” he said. “Instead, they beat us with dribble drives and at the free-throw line.”

The Spartans defense collapsed in the second session, allowing N.C. State 20 points in the paint and 30 trips to the free-throw line.

“Once you get some easy baskets, guys start playing with a little more confidence and a little more freedom,” Wolfpack guard Archie Miller said. “In the second half, guys were looking to make plays and not so much for back cuts. It was more about just turning, facing the basket and breaking the defense down.”

MSU junior forward Adam Ballinger said the Spartans did a good job eliminating N.C. State’s perimeter shooting, but their emphasis on the outside proved to create weaknesses on the inside.

“We knew if we took away their three-point shot, they’d drive on us,” he said. “They executed their inside game well.”

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