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N.C. State blocks out Saturday as it looks toward UNC

North Carolina Louisville Basketball-4

North Carolina forward Nassir Little drives around the defense of Louisville forward Jordan Nwora during Saturday's game in Lousville.

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BY SAMUEL EVERS
Sports Writer

Monday, February 4, 2019

Since his team’s 24-point output on Saturday against No. 11 Virginia Tech — the lowest by a ranked team in the shot clock era, which began in 1985 — N.C. State coach Kevin Keatts has watched the game tape two, maybe three times, he said during media availability on Monday.

There’s no question what he’s going to do with it now.

“Obviously,” he said, “now I’m burning the tape.”

It was an all-timer in terms of scoring futility, but it counts the exact same as the overtime loss to No. 3 Virginia earlier in the week, though the two-game stretch did knock the Wolfpack out of the new Associated Press Top 25 poll, released Monday.

For Keatts, whose team will head to Chapel Hill on Tuesday to play No. 9 North Carolina, the end of a three-game stretch in which they’ll have played three teams in the top-11, the reasoning behind the debacle at home Saturday has at least maintained consistent; he’s even tried to sway the performance toward the few positives.

“They won the game, which is all that really matters, but we were able to hold them to 47 points and 35 percent from the floor,” Keatts said. “It was a tough game to watch.”

On the Wolfpack’s end, the problem, he said when asked Monday, was a fundamental part of basketball.

“We got great looks,” he said. “At one point I counted, we had 14 open looks that we missed, which normally our guys would make those.”

For the game, N.C. State shot 16.7 percent.

“It was one of those games,” Keatts said.

For the Tar Heels, coming off a victory over No. 16 Louisville, which was No. 15 during last week’s poll, the challenge will be dealing with what Roy Williams — and surely Keatts — expects to be a reengaged N.C. State team.

“I would always like to play guys when they’re fat and happy as opposed to when they’re mad and refocused and all those kinds of things, so that’s what I told our team,” Williams said.

Krzyzewski’s praise for Jones

Mike Krzyzewski was asked several questions Monday regarding Duke freshman point guard Tre Jones, who seems back to full health after returning from an AC joint injury two weekends ago against Georgia Tech.

When healthy, Jones has proven to be one of the top defensive guards in the country, and one of the best Duke guards ever defensively under Krzyzewski, the longtime coach said in December.

When did Krzyzewski realize his freshman’s toughness?

“Since he was in about seventh or eighth grade, when we started recruiting (Tre’s brother) Tyus, because I saw (Tre) play football,” Krzyzewski said. So (his toughness) didn’t surprise me at all. That’s just what (the Jones’) do.”

Krzyzewski wasn’t surprised by Jones’ defensive prowess, he said, but his leadership this season alongside three other freshmen, each projected as high lottery picks in the NBA Draft, has.

“One thing about being a leader is you have to do what you say at a high level. You have to show up everyday and for every play,” Krzyzewski said. “Zion and R.J. are leaders, too, but everyone respects and trusts Tre in a moment’s notice. He’s earned that. It’s different than being friends. All those guys are really good friends but leadership and trust and dependability are earned in real time action and (Tre)’s done that.”

The second-ranked Blue Devils host Boston College at 7 p.m. in Durham on Tuesday.

 

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