The health of Jericole Hellems is the number one concern following Saturday’s contest with Wake Forest. He suffered an apparent head injury late in the game and had to be stretchered off the court. Obviously, we’re all hoping he is okay and not seriously hurt.
The Pack got a critical ACC victory on Saturday when it cruised on the Demon Deacons for about 36 minutes and then held on for a 91-82 win.
For those 36 minutes, Kevin Keatts basketball was fully functional. State jumped out to an early lead via some hot perimeter shooting and never cooled down, finishing the game 11/18 from beyond the arc for a very nice 69%. Five separate players made a three-pointer.
The Pack’s offense was fluid for most of the game as the lead ballooned to as many as almost 20 in the second half. The Pack was effective in the pick and roll, moved well on offense, forced 19 turnovers, and rebounded well on both sides of the court. It was pretty close to a whole package performance for State.
After those 36 minutes, the team melted down in the final tenth of the game as it tried to run out the clock, struggling to break the press and turning the ball over a bunch of times. A Brandon Childress three brought the Deacs all the way back to only a five point deficit with 28 seconds to go before the Pack was finally able to close it out.
It’s a critical win for State, which lost a stupid game to Georgia Tech to start the season and really could not afford to fall to 0-2 in ACC. It’s also Keatts’ second win in Winston-Salem in three tries, which is better than the last coach did.
Individually, Braxton Beverly returned to form, moving well without the ball and going 3 of 3 from three. His jumper coming back would be a huge addition to State’s offense. Hellems continued his red hot run, going 3 of 4 from three in another efficient double figure game. His control and awareness on the court is so far ahead of where it was last year that I am suspicious if he’s even the same guy. Kudos to him on the development.
Five guys reached double figures in an efficient offensive performance for the Pack, which shot 52% overall. This level of play on offense would be great to keep seeing as State heads into a tough two-game road stretch against a good UNC-G team and Auburn.
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