|Four Factors||NC State||Miami|
|Off Reb Rate||26.5||31.3|
Sidney Lowe made some significant changes to his starting lineup this afternoon: Richard Howell replaced an ailing CJ Leslie, CJ Williams replaced a struggling Lorenzo Brown, and Ryan Harrow got the nod over Javier Gonzalez. Maybe it was a coincidence, maybe it wasn't, but the new lineup helped State to a refreshingly good start, thanks largely to excellent play from Richard Howell, who was outstanding throughout.
The offense was consistent through the first thirty minutes or so, staving off a number of mini-runs from Miami and keeping them at a comfortable distance. When Zo converted a three-point play to put the Pack up 17 with a twelve-and-a-half to go, the Hurricanes looked done. Naturally, this being a game against a team not named Wake Forest, State had to make things interesting. Miami went on a 26-9 to tie the score at 64 with four minutes to go. The Hurricanes could not miss from outside while Reggie Johnson remembered that he's pretty good at basketball and took over in the paint. Ten of his 20 points came during the run.
But Tracy Smith hit a couple of clutch shots late, State played good defense in the final minute, and the guys were able to hold on. Good thing, too, since a loss here would've been a real gut punch of an introduction to the toughest stretch of the season. Four of the next five are on the road.
-- Free throws and turnovers. There was just enough of an advantage there to overcome Miami's superior shooting. I took a quick glance at past results and I think this is just the second conference game a Sidney Lowe team has won while being out-shot.
-- Miami's torrid second-half shooting continues what is becoming an alarming trend. Our last three opponents have scored at least 1.34 points per possession in the second half. Both FSU and Duke cleared 1.4. We dodged one today. It is not likely we'll be so fortunate again.
-- Richard Howell has to start on Tuesday night, doesn't he? In fact I would change nothing. Brown seemed fine coming off the bench, and I much prefer this offense with CJ Leslie doing the same. It's nice not to endure a couple of bad shots that stall the offense right at the start. And it's especially important to avoid that sort of thing on the road trip ahead.