Originally posted on Fox Sports Carolinas
By LAUREN BROWNLOW  |  Last updated 11/21/13
RALEIGH, N.C. -- It's not as shocking a result as it would seem for North Carolina Central (3-1) to knock off NC State (2-2). It's shocking, of course, because its a MEAC team going on the road (not far, since Central is in Durham, but still) and beating a major-conference opponent. It does seem more surprising that NC Central withstood a late-game run by NC State to tie the game on a three-pointer with 2.7 seconds left and still won by ten in overtime. But even so, the end result itself is surprising -- maybe even disappointing for NC State fans -- but not really an earth-shattering upset. NC Central was the more experienced, veteran team while NC State is still very young, and both of those things were a factor. But NC State certainly can -- and should, as the season goes along -- play better than it did. 1. Youth got served NC State is a young team, unquestionably, and it showed quite a bit. Especially when contrasted with an NC Central team that was not afraid. According to Ken Pomeroys experience rankings, NC Central is the most experienced team in the country while NC State is 340th out of 351 teams. But there are other experienced teams left on NC State's non-conference schedule that are like NC Central, and maybe better. Florida Gulf Coast is still a relatively experienced team (83rd in Pomeroy's experience rankings), and NC State is going to have to get a lot better in a hurry if it wants to win these out-of-conference games. The Wolfpack has a game coming up against Eastern Kentucky as well, a team that is 15th in returning experience. That's kind of how NC State head coach Mark Gottfried designs his schedule, though. In the end, he has to hope it will benefit this team and help it grow as the year goes on. "When I make our schedule out every year, I'm specifically hunting for teams that I think are going to be 20-25 game-winners. (NC Central is) one of them," Gottfried said. "I'm not going to be a guy that's going to sit up here and whine about youth or inexperience. They're a veteran team. They played like a veteran team. Give them credit. I'm not really into all that other stuff. They're a good team. They're going to win a lot of games, and I think we're going to get good. We're just, we're not there obviously right now." 2. Closer-officiated games are still something NC State is having a hard time adjusting to There were a total of 57 fouls called -- 49 in regulation alone -- and 78 free throws attempted. And 64 of the 154 total points scored in the game -- over 41 percent -- were scored from the free-throw line. It's part of the new reality of college basketball, as officials are calling hand checks and fouls that impede an offensive player's progress more closely. They didn't make any secret about it leading into the season, and they're living up to their end of it. Some might argue all the whistles don't make for a very watchable product. Others might argue it's fixing a product that rough play was making unwatchable. Either way you look at it, it's not going away. At least, not anytime soon. And all the teams can do is adjust. But some games are called differently than others, and this was one of them. Five players fouled out (four from NC State) and five more players picked up four fouls. Four of NC State's five starters fouled out, including its leading scorer, T.J. Warren. NC Central's best player Jeremy Ingram was limited by foul trouble for much of regulation and finished with four fouls. "I think the fouls -- the way they call the fouls is poor," Barber, who had just two fouls on the night, said. "I'm a great defender, player and I know I can keep players in front of me but it's like if you look like you're touching them, it's a foul. They changed it and this is -- it's the rules ... We're just going to have to get in the gym and keep on working." NC State couldn't stop the ball early, so it switched from a man-to-man to a zone. It worked at times, but the foul-fest contributed to the way the game unfolded. A veteran NC Central team managed to find a way to adjust to it, attempting 45 free throws (and making 41), while NC State couldn't. And that was also part of the reason that NC State couldn't carry over any momentum it had with a late-game comeback to tie the score into overtime. "I think part of it was that half the team was on the bench fouled out (in overtime). That's not a typical situation. I think I agree with you -- most of the time, you hit a shot and now you've got a little momentum. We just had a difficult time I think getting in any rhythm at that point because we're playing some guys that don't normally play very much," Gottfried said. "We have to get better. That's the bottom line for us. In a lot of areas. But it was difficult tonight because so many guys were in foul trouble. That made it obviously a lot harder, one more thing to overcome." Video: College basketball plays of the Week: November 17 3. Without T.J. Warren on the floor, other guys are going to have to learn to step up NC State has some nice pieces surrounding Warren, who has shown he can be an elite scorer. But he fouled out of the game with 2:47 to go and NC Central still up by two. Freshman point guard Cat Barber had eight of his 22 points after Warren went out, including five points in about 30 seconds towards the end of regulation to spur NC State's comeback. And 16 of his points came in the final ten minutes of regulation plus overtime, when seemingly no one else on the team could hit a shot. Barber was able to find some seams in the NC Central zone, penetrating into the lane and either scoring himself or finding teammates (or getting fouled). More importantly, though, he showed that he's one of the talented players on this roster perhaps more ready to step up and be that guy if needed. "Yes, I think I did," Barber said when asked if he grew up tonight. "I think I stepped up big in the place of scoring points and just helping lead the team. I just wanted to play the game and help our team win and just play hard, keep our guys in the up position so we could win the game. With (Warren) out, it kind of hurt us because he's a big part of our scoring. But we couldn't hang our heads. So we just kept playing." Warren going out also provided a nice subplot, as NC State freshman walk-on Patrick Wallace was put into the game late after yet another player fouled out, and he knocked down the game-tying three-pointer with 2.7 seconds to go. It wasn't a designed play -- Barber drove into the paint, drew help and found a wide-open Wallace -- but he was ready for it. And he was more ready to play than one might've expected him to be. "I sort of guessed it as the game went on," Wallace said. "We were in foul trouble, so I expected maybe getting a shot to play. Maybe we would scramble around with some big men, but I always have to stay ready and be ready for my opportunity and luckily it came tonight."
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