|3pt FG Att||12||22|
|3pt FG Made||7||9|
|3pt FG Pct||58.3||40.9|
I can't begin to tell you how big this game is for a young team like State. To go on the road, following a tough loss at home, and beat a superior team on their court after trailing 11 at the half is just remarkable. I'm not sure what Sidney told the team at halftime, but if you bottled it up and sold it, you'd make a fortune.
As bad as the team shot in the Northwestern game, they tipped the scales the other direction in the second half. State shot a mind-blowing 81.3% eFG% (20-28 from two and a perfect 4-4 from three) and scored 52 points to go from 11 down to 14 up, all in a matter of about 15 minutes. They got to that margin on this NASTY alley oop from Javy Gonzalez to Tracy Smith:
The final five minutes were an adventure at the free throw line. After pushing the lead back to 12 on an and-one from Tracy Smith at the 1:04 mark, State missed 7 of its last 10 free throw attempts. Further complicating matters was State's inability to prevent the Golden Eagles from drilling three treys in about :45.
But in the end the lead was large enough to hold and State settled the score from last year's buzzer-beater loss in the RBC Center.
This is the kind of win where, if everything breaks right over the course of the year, it would look really good on the resume of a bubble NCAA team. State would have to steal some wins in the league just to get to 8-8 and get into the conversation, but with the way this team is playing--fighting through adversity, sticking together even when the shots aren't falling--a .500 conference mark is certainly possible.
First things first, though: it needs to win the games it should win (Elon and Georgia Southern) to set the table for a big conference-opener against Wake Forest in Winston-Salem and a quick turnaround road-trip to Arizona--two very winnable games. Finish this stretch 4-0 and...well, let just say that some heads will start turning State's way as one of the surprise teams of the league thus far.
We just need to put some fannies in the RBC Center to cheer them on...