Joe Harris

Road struggles continue for No. 19 NC State, Wolfpack fall to Joe Harris and Virginia

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In the battle between the tortoise and the hare, this one went to the tortoise.

The Virginia Cavaliers, by focusing on a slow half-court offense, outlasted No. 19 NC State late to secure a big 58-55 win at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Va.

NC State had four straight opportunities in the final three minutes to tie or take the lead and could not capitalize, culminating in a three-point heave from guard Scott Wood in the waning seconds that was off the mark to give Virginia the win.

Virginia guard Joe Harris led all scorers with 22 points on 7-of-15 shooting from the floor, able to single-handedly outplay an NC State backcourt that struggled Tuesday. Akil Mitchell anchored Virginia’s interior attack with a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds.

NC State guard Lorenzo Brown played just ten minutes before he was forced out by an ankle injury.

Without Brown on the floor for much of the game, the NC State transition attack was not running at the same pace that it typically does when the Wolfpack flourish. Virginia effectively slowed down NC State’s transition game and forced the Wolfpack to play more of a half-court set.

Backup point guard Tyler Lewis saw by far more minutes Tuesday than he had seen at any other point during conference play. With Brown sitting out, he had three points and two assists, but perhaps most importantly did not turn the ball over.

Without Brown on the perimeter, the focus for NC State was once again on the interior with Richard Howell and C.J. Leslie. The two had 12 points and 20 points, respectively, and were the keys to the Wolfpack remaining in the game down the stretch.

The loss continues a trend for NC State. The Wolfpack have been consistently unable to close out games on the road against quality opponents in the ACC.

On Jan. 16, NC State lost to Maryland by one, 51-50, after shooting 31 percent from the field. Less than one week later, the same Wolfpack team blew a 16-point lead to lose, 86-84, to Wake Forest.

Virginia moves into second place in the ACC with a conference record of 5-2.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.