— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 20, 2015
No. 8 NC State and No. 9 LSU have both managed to show flashes of their potential this season, but they’ve also shown a lack of consistency that tends to be a main characteristic of teams that land in the 8/9 matchup. With that being the case, maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise that the two teams played a game that was both exciting and befuddling.
But all that matters is the end result, and thanks to a BeeJay Anya jump hook with one tenth of a second remaining the Wolfpack won by the final score of 66-65.
Next up for the Wolfpack is East Region No. 1 Villanova, which coasted to a win over No. 16 Lafayette in the first game of the evening session in Pittsburgh.
Anya’s game-winner capped a stunning collapse for LSU, which led by 14 points (62-48) with 9:13 remaining. From that point forward LSU scored just three points, all coming from the foul line, as they missed their final 12 shots from the field. Add in the fact that Johnny Jones’ Tigers also missed their final six free throws of the game, and it isn’t took difficult to see why NC State had the opportunity to come back.
But even with that opportunity a team has to take advantage, and thanks in part to Kyle Washington NC State was able to do so. Washington scored seven of his nine points in the early stages of the Wolfpack’s 18-3 game-ending run, and from there his teammates stepped forward on both ends of the floor.
Trevor Lacey added five points and Abdul-Malik Abu two during the run, with Anya responsible for the final four points of the game. And after being worn out by the tandem of Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey for most of the first 30 minutes of the game, the NC State front court stepped forward when Mark Gottfried needed them most. Add in Cat Barber’s team-high 17 points, and the Wolfpack were able to find a way to win.
NC State has the talent to give Villanova trouble on Saturday, but the key for them will be consistency. They can ill-afford to play as they did for the majority of Thursday’s win against the Wildcats, as that would lead to defeat. Play as they did in the final 9:15 Thursday night, and the Wolfpack have a shot at pulling off the upset.