NC State junior Cat Barber has been one of the nation’s best point guards, and Saturday afternoon he added another piece of evidence to that argument by scoring 30 points in the Wolfpack’s 85-69 win over No. 15 Miami.
With the 30 points Barber reached that mark for the third time in the last four games, shooting 10-for-18 from the field and 10-for-10 from the foul line to go along with four assists against the Hurricanes. Given the importance of Barber to NC State he’s on the receiving end of a lot of attention from opposing defenses, but against Miami that didn’t matter as the junior was able to get to his preferred spots off the dribble throughout the game.
However it wasn’t perimeter play that cost Miami, as the Hurricanes received solid performances from its perimeter rotation including Sheldon McClellan (18 points) and Angel Rodriguez (15 points, six assists) What ultimately cost the Hurricanes was the fact that their front court was outworked by NC State throughout the day.
Kamari Murphy and Tonye Jekiri combined for ten points and nine rebounds, and Ivan Cruz Uceda went scoreless in his ten minutes off the bench. By comparison the NC State tandem of Abdul-Malik Abu and Caleb Martin combined for 32 points and 14 boards, with BeeJay Anya contributing seven rebounds. NC State limited Miami to 39.7 percent shooting and closed out many of those possessions with a rebound, grabbing 88.6 percent of the Hurricanes’ missed shots.
Add in a 34-20 edge in points in the paint, and NC State won the game by controlling the action within the most valuable piece of real estate on the court.
Given NC State’s lack of depth their margin for error is small, and it forces Barber to play major minutes while also being asked to both score and distribute the basketball. But there’s still talent at Mark Gottfried’s disposal, and when they’re clicking NC State is capable of taking advantage. Miami, which needs more from its big men moving forward, found that out the hard way.