NC State can breathe a little and focus on putting together the pieces after a disastrous start to ACC play. Mark Gottfried left Pittsburgh with a 78-61 win against the Panthers on Tuesday and now that the Wolfpack have one win, they can work on a second with a reeling Duke team coming to town Saturday.
Duke, currently on a three-game skid with back-to-back home losses to Notre Dame and Syracuse, will take the short trip to Raleigh on Saturday to face NC State; a game which, I should be sure to let you know, can be seen on CBS. That game looks awfully interesting now, especially if NC State gets any kind of boost from this road victory against the Panthers.
NC State put Pitt away early with a 30-9 lead and things were very confident on Twitter.
Pack has the ball and a 30-9 lead. pic.twitter.com/9kbtE5yrW6
— NC State Men’s Bball (@PackMensBball) January 20, 2016
NC State won the game later at the line (16 for 20 for the game), hitting enough free throws to hold off several strong charges from Jamel Artis and the rest of the Panthers in the second half.
Cat Barber was a monster and might have had one of the best performances of the evening anywhere with 31 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Barber, now with three 30-point games this season, has been a warrior for the Wolfpack. He has played in all but 14 minutes of their six ACC games (1-5) and has grown more confident as the team’s lead guard. Abdul Malik-Abu had a strong showing with 16 points and 10 rebounds, a good sign for the promising sophomore.
Though I’m sure Mark Gottfried would love to pair this road win with a victory against Mike Krzyzewski and the still-ranked Blue Devils, he cautions taking too much from any one result — “If you win one, that doesn’t guarantee you win two, or if you lose one it doesn’t guarantee you lose the next one,” he said on the ACC teleconference this week.