We've struggled with late game free throws all season long, and Andre and Tanner both have had some missed opportunities at the line late in games this year. After seeing so many close losses this year, and after seeing these two seniors work their tails off all season long, it was really cool to see those two guys go out there and nail clutch shots at the end of the game.
For those of you that didn't catch the end of the game, Tanner went to the line, down 2, with six seconds left in regulation. His first free throw bounced off the back rim and landed on the front, and it looked like the ball was coming out. I was thinking to myself, "not again, not another failure at the line, not another missed opportunity." But after the ball sat on the rim for what seemed like an eternity, it decided to pull a 180 and fall into the hoop. C.J. Leslie missed a 3 at the buzzer for State, and the game went to OT.
In OT, Tanner got an old fashioned 3-point play in the opening minute, but we only scored a single point over the next 3 minutes (a TJ Sapp free throw), and we were down 3 with just over a minute left. But then Andre, who had missed all 5 shots from beyond the arc up to that point, took over. He hit a 3 to tie things up, and after a pair of missed free throws from NC State, with the clock winding down, Tanner passed the ball to his roommate, who nailed the game winning 3 with just 11.5 seconds left in the game.
The free throws really were the difference in this game. Lorenzo Brown gashed us repeatedly in the late stages of the game, and scored 6 of State's 8 OT points, but he couldn't get it done at the line, as he missed a pair of attempts with just 45 seconds left. After seeing Georgia Tech shoot a horrid 36.4% (4-11) at the line on Tuesday, I thought it would be a long time before I saw such another shittastic performance at the charity stripe. But then the wolfpack came in to Littlejohn today and converted just 5 of 13 free throws (38.5%). Ouch.
Bryan Narcisse didn't do much on offense today. He missed three 3-point attempts, and none of the shots came even close, and he finished with 0 points and 1 assist. But he played slid defense while he was on the court, and played with the energy that we've come accustomed to seeing out of him. His shot selection was fine-he took the shots while wide open, and with a teammate in rebounding position-he just isn't a good long range shooter.
Bobo has made great strides with his offensive play this year. I remember commenting back in November or December that he wouldn't be good enough to contribute much in ACC play. Boy was I wrong. He utilized a bunch of different moves on offense today. We saw a hooking post move from him today that I simply didn't think he was cabable of making earlier in the season, and we also saw a fade away shot that he nailed as well as an 18-foot jump shot. The man only got finished with 4 points, and his rebounding was terrible, but when you consider just how awful he was when he got here, his development this year has been outstanding.
A quick bit about Milton-he's looked a lot better these last two games. He's scored a combined 32 points in those games, and he's just turned the ball over once. But with Milton, there's always something to critique. And his 9 personal fouls in the last two contests is certainly something to work on.
I usually don't write a big blurb about a guy that gets 6 minutes of play time, but after all the comments about KJ on this site on Tuesday, I felt the need to talk about him for a bit. I'm starting to think that he is a bigger asset without the ball than he is with it. When someone else shoots a jump shot, he starts his run towards the basket as his teammate is releasing the ball. And since he's usually outside the paint when he starts his run, no one on defense picks him up, and he elevates himself and slams the ball home when after the teammate's shot bounces off the rim. He had another one of these signature plays today. But that was his only basket in 6 minutes of play. He drove the baseline but was stuffed by a pair of defenders, and he also traveled with the ball on another possession. He doesn't have the outside shot to make him a real threat when he has the ball, but his unique ability to score off the miss with a monster jam shows me that if he can work on his outside shot in the off season, he could be a threat to score every single time down the court, and could finish in the top 3 in scoring on next year's team (behind Devin and Milton). I don't have a problem with him getting just 6 minutes of play time today. He's not a threat at all when he has the ball on the perimeter, whereas TJ Sapp is. And he isn't the asset on defense that Bryan is. But all those KJ fans out there need not worry. His role on next year's team will be greatly expanded.
On Tanner's first free throw at the end of regulation, when the ball was sitting on the rim, it easily could have fallen one way or another, and maybe it was just luck that it decided to fall our way, but I like to think it was a reward for all the hard work that these seniors have given in their four years here. Senior night may not be until Thursday, but we saw really great performances from all four seniors today. It'll be really hard for them to top the performances they had today, and it'll be really hard to top the great moments we saw at the end of today's game. Win or lose against Virginia Tech on Thursday, this game today was a hell of a way to send these seniors out.
That Senior Night game, by the way, will tip off at 9 and will be televised by the ACC Network. For any students reading this: GO TO THE GAME. We've won four of our last five games. And it's senior night for God's sake. And since the game is at 9, and it's a Thursday, win or lose, you can go downtown afterwords and get drunk. It's the last game for Bobo, Andre, Tanner, and B-nice. Go watch it.
Sorry for getting this posted so late. I got stuck in combined basketball and baseball traffic coming out of Littlejohn today.