The Wolfpack flopped in epic fashion on Monday night, falling to Roy Williams and the Tar Heels 75-65.
There is really only one way to look at the Wolfpack’s devastating loss to the Tar Heels on Monday night: N.C. State will never get North Carolina at a more opportune time and it blew its opportunity.
The Tar Heels entered Monday night at 9-10 overall and 2-6 in the ACC. North Carolina was still without star point guard Cole Anthony and forward Brandon Robinson played 90% of the game in extreme pain. North Carolina was 294th in field goal percentage and had struggled all year to put the basketball through the hoop.
And yet, N.C. State made them look like NCAA Championship contenders on Monday night. The Wolfpack were manhandled in every facet of the game. The Tar Heels shot effectively from the floor (49.1 percent), destroyed the Wolfpack on the boards (42-31) and outhustled N.C. State on nearly every play. They wanted it more and it was evident.
Let’s face it, N.C. State is by and large a mediocre basketball program. Unable to win road games and certainly nowhere close to competing with North Carolina and Duke, even if they have a depleted and struggling roster. Markell Johnson was abysmal, shooting just 6-19. C.J. Bryce couldn’t buy a bucket, finishing the night scoreless. Braxton Beverly continued to give the Wolfpack absolutely nothing on the offensive end.
And now the team is entering dangerous territory. There does not appear to be a slam-dunk easy win left on the schedule, with Wolfpack fans likely having to sweat out each and every game down the stretch. This team is just as likely to beat No. 6 Louisville on Saturday as it is to lose by 20 to Miami (FL) on the road.
Is there an answer to move this program forward? Is it time to start scrutinizing Kevin Keatts and his results? If not now, when does the time come? Certainly, the absence of highly touted recruit Jalen Lecque is hurting this team right now. Add him into the lineup and the team has more of what it desperately lacks: scoring. N.C. State’s prized class next year ranks 8th and should inject new life into the program.
But for now, we are left with this flawed bunch and they will undoubtedly continue to toy with our mental health for just long enough to inject permanent damage. Monday night was set-up to be a perfect outcome for the Wolfpack and instead, we are left with a bitter taste in our mouths and the realization that N.C. State is very far behind UNC, even now.