North Carolina State v Duke

Lorenzo Brown’s return and a Scott Wood three-pointer stop N.C. State freefall

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Entering Sunday’s game at Clemson having lost five of their last seven games, it’s a safe assumption that ACC preseason favorite N.C. State won’t win the conference’s regular season title.

Of greater concern was whether or not the Wolfpack would be able to snap out of their funk, and for much of the afternoon it looked as if a team in search of answers would suffer yet another close defeat.

But Lorenzo Brown’s pass to an open Scott Wood led to the three-pointer that gave the Wolfpack (17-7, 6-5) a 58-57 victory and kept them from dropping to below .500 in conference play.

As was the case in four of their five losses the little things would play a role in the outcome, with N.C. State nearly losing because of two late turnovers. But the Wolfpack would get one last shot at the win due to Milton Jennings missing the front end of a 1-and-1 with 12.3 seconds remaining, and they took advantage of it.

Brown didn’t start the game but he made up for lost time (and shot attempts), scoring 15 points (6-of-15 FG) and dishing out four assists in 32 minutes of action. For significant stretches head coach Mark Gottfried went with a backcourt of Brown and freshman Tyler Lewis, who played well in losses to No. 8 Miami and No. 4 Duke.

However the rotation change had an adverse effect on freshman Rodney Purvis, who was largely ineffective and failed to score in 27 minutes of playing time. In theory Purvis and the other guards will get more comfortable as they get practice time with Brown back in the fold, but who’s to say that will definitely happen?

Forwards Richard Howell and C.J. Leslie both posted double-doubles in the win, combining to score 28 points and grab 21 rebounds, but they also accounted for eight of the Wolfpack’s 12 turnovers. And with Leslie racking up 13 turnovers over the last three games, that’s an area he needs to clean up as N.C. State begins this stretch run.

Sunday’s win was a result the Wolfpack needed for their collective psyche, and the schedule works in their favor with home games against Virginia Tech and Florida State next week.

But Sunday’s result should not mask the fact that N.C. State is a team still looking to find its rhythm.

Video credit: ACC Digital Network

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej

Boise State loses guard Harwell to torn ACL

Leon Rice
Associated Press
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Expected to be one of the favorites in the Mountain West this season, Boise State’s perimeter ranks have shrunk by one player due to injury. Thursday it was reported by the Idaho Statesman that freshman guard Malek Harwell will redshirt after suffering a torn ACL in practice. Along with fellow freshman Paris Austin, Harwell is expected to be a key part of the Broncos’ future beyond the upcoming season.

Now, instead of competing with an experienced backcourt that includes four redshirt seniors, Harwell will work to get his knee back to full strength for the 2016-17 season.

Among the guards who will play significant minutes this season are Anthony Drmic, who took a medical redshirt last season, Montigo Alford, Mikey Thompson and grad transfer Lonnie Jackson (Boston College). Chandler Hutchison, who started in Boise State’s final 18 games of the 2014-15 season as a freshman, will also compete for playing time.

Knee injury sidelines Illinois forward Leron Black

Josh Hart, Leron Black
Associated Press
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Illinois will be shorthanded in its front court for the time being, as during the team’s media day Thursday head coach John Groce announced that sophomore forward Leron Black is out due to injury.

Black will undergo surgery Friday to repair a meniscus tear in his knee, and he’s expected to miss anywhere from four to six weeks. A return after four weeks would have Black back on the court just before the Fighting Illini open their season November 13 against North Florida. Any longer and the Memphis native would wind up missing some game action.

Black averaged 5.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in just under 15 minutes of action per game as a freshman. He’s one of the players expected to contribute in the front court for the Fighting Illini, who lost their best interior defender and second-leading rebounder in Nnanna Egwu at the end of last season (guard Rayvonte Rice, who led the team in rebounding, is also gone).

In addition to Black and junior Maverick Morgan, Illinois adds redshirt freshman Michael Finke and grad student Mike Thorne Jr. (via Charlotte) to their front court rotation.