BROOKLYN -- For the next few days and nights, Brooklyn is home to the Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Basketball Championship. Tuesday’s noon tip at Barclays Center saw 12th-seed NC State face 13th-seeded Clemson in an opening-round game. The added drama in this contest was NC State coach Mark Gottfried leading the Wolfpack in his last go-round.
Following a first half that left them in a continuous uphill battle, NC State dropped a 75-61 decision to the Tigers, who improved to 17-14 on the season. The Wolfpack ended their campaign, and Gottfried’s final of six seasons in Raleigh at 15-17.
First five possessions:
NC State: Field goal, three-point field goal, missed field goal, missed field goal, turnover
Clemson: Missed field goal, field goal, field goal, field goal, field goal
The 8-5 Clemson lead through the first 2:56 of action marked a quick early pace for both teams, each of whom was willing to get out in transition.
First half observations: For the record, the first field goal attempt was successfully made in the paint by NC State’s Abdul-Malik Abu. Feeling the glow of the first possession. Abu put up every open shot in the Wolfpack’s next few possessions, failing to convert on any.
NC State zoned early then switched into a man-to-man with some added effectiveness. Their main issue for a good part of the first half was getting some offensive consistency. The latter part of the half showed the Wolfpack shooting 31 percent from the floor while showing more success from beyond the arc, making three of their five attempts.
Clemson’s Jaron Blossomgame has been able to get in the lane on a regular basis this season, and did so again on Tuesday to disrupt the Wolfpack defense. The 6-foot-7 senior was the first player on either team to get in the double-figure scoring column.
Halftime: Clemson 39, NC State 28
Offensive efficiency: Clemson 108, NC State 78
Second half observations: The first four minutes of the second half on the scoreboard were even at 6 apiece. As Clemson held serve, it was paramount for NC State to get off to a good run to start the half. As it resulted, they gained no ground. The Wolfpack’s struggles continued into the second half. Contesting the Tigers’ size, especially 6-foot-9 sophomore Elijah Thomas, was a problem. The Clemson bigs are very active inside and difficult to keep off the offensive boards, and such was the case Tuesday.
NC State trailed by double digits for most of the final stanza. With three minutes to go, they were down 11 with the possibility of having one last run in their tank. Those hopes were soon vanquished after Blossomgame got free for an easy basket inside to push the margin to 13 with just over two minutes to play.
Possessions: Clemson 67, NC State 66
Offensive efficiency: Clemson 112, NC State 92
Effective field goal percentage: Clemson 48, NC State 43
Free throw rate: Clemson 22, NC State 52
Offensive rebound percentage: Clemson 39, NC State 31
Turnover rate: Clemson 13, NC State 23
Leading scorers and effectiveness factors:
Clemson: Shelton Mitchell 22 points, (EF 29) Jaron Blossomgame 22 points (EF 27)
NC State: Abdul-Malik Abu 14 points, (EF 22) Maverick Rowan 14 points (EF 14)
What Clemson did well: Pound the glass with 17 offensive rebounds. A game-high 13 total boards from Sidy Djitte saw the 6-foot-10 senior secure six on the offensive end.
What NC State did well: Get to the line. The Wolfpack drew fouls, running a lot of isolations on baseline clear outs. Unfortunately for Mark Gottfried’s club, it was not nearly enough.
Dennis Smith, Jr., NC State’s 6-foot-3 guard and ACC Freshman of the Year, struggled through a seven-point day with eight rebounds. Smith entered the tournament scoring at a team-leading 18.5 points per game, but shot just 3-for-12 on the afternoon.
Postgame Quotes (transcripts courtesy of ASAP Sports)