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ECU SID Game Recap

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Pack presents tall task

By Al Myatt
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RALEIGH Jordan Vandenberg came out for the second half at PNC Arena on Saturday and was getting loose before play resumed. The 7-feet, 1-inch senior from Australia jumped near the basket and was practically eye level with the rim.

His vertical presence was just one of the matchup problems East Carolina faced in a 90-79 Wolfpack win.

"He's one of the most improved guys that I've seen," said fourth-year ECU coach Jeff Lebo. "He's lost weight and become a factor for them. When they threw it up there to him we couldn't go where he went."

Vandenberg had five dunks in the second half and finished with 18 points. He made nine of 10 field goal attempts as State shot 58.2 percent for the game.

"I give State credit," Lebo said. "They played awfully well offensively."

Pack small forward T.J. Warren displayed as good a combination of skills to be found this side of the NBA.

The 6-feet, 8-inch sophomore scored in about every conceivable manner. He went from keeping the Pack in the game as ECU (10-3) opened a pair of nine-point leads to sparking a 15-0 State run to close the half.

"You can't have a section of the game where you have a 15-0 run and expect to win on the road," Lebo said.

Warren had 25 of his game-high 32 points in the first half.

"We had a hard time matching up with him," Lebo said. "Most people do. ... He can drive it. He's excellent without the ball. ... He has a unique ability to time his cuts. Obviously, he can do a lot of different things, too. He can rebound. He can score on the break. When he's making shots from the perimeter, he's unguardable."

Anthony "Cat" Barber, well-nicknamed in regard to his quickness, can drive and shoot, but his best quality against the Pirates was distributing the ball to State's other weapons.

Barber had 16 points and eight assists.

When State (9-2) needed some long-range artillery, Ralston Turner was there to deliver daggers. He was 3-for-4 from beyond the arc and had 11 points.

While the Pack can take any number of approaches on offense, Lebo has figured out that his guys must either spread the floor and drive or bomb away from the outside.

Most of ECU's anticipated low post game has either departed campus or is on medical leave.

The exterior option was the most effective as the Pirates were 10 for 27 on threes. Akeem Richmond dropped five treys and had a team-high 23 points.

Story continues after the following picture...

ECU sharpshooter Akeem Richmond drains a three in front of State's
student section. Richmond finished with 23 points. (Photo by W.A. Myatt)

Dribble penetration did not go nearly as well. The State skyline blocked nine shots.

BeeJay Anya, a 6-9, 325-pound specimen, had five rejections and Vandenberg had three.

"We haven't seen size like that all year," said sophomore Prince Williams, who played at nearby Broughton High and had 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting. "We still wanted to keep attacking."

Story continues after the following picture...

Raleigh Broughton High School product Prince Williams finishes a
first half layup over N.C. State's Tyler Lewis. (Photo by W.A. Myatt)

The Wolfpack was called for just nine fouls for the game.

That was a pretty big adjustment for the Pirates, who were nine for nine from the line. ECU came into the game ranking second nationally in made free throws.

The Pirates are averaging over 33 foul shots per game. Lebo has coached his guys to go hard to the basket in light of new rules designed to stimulate offense.

"The first half we got eight blocked and we can't simulate that without our bigs in practice," Lebo said. "Anya was terrific in the first half with his shot blocks. He's so wide that you underestimate his length.

"That size around the rim, the ACC size, bothered us in getting the ball to the basket. ... When you drive it in there, it's a different look against the size."

A dunk by Vandenberg gave State a 61-51 lead with 14:48 to go.

"Vandenberg is really the guy that killed us in the second half," Richmond said. "It's no one's fault. We're down a lot of big men."

ECU responded with a 9-0 run that included a jumper by Antonio Robinson, a three by Richmond, a basket by Caleb White and a hoop by Prince Williams.

"We battled hard and had a chance there late," Lebo said.

The Pack answered with an 8-0 flurry and the Pirates got no closer than four points the rest of the way.

ECU, which shot 35 of 44 at the line Thursday night in a 103-94 win over VMI, could not muster a final run.

Seven players got all the minutes for the Pirates. Richmond and Paris Roberts-Campbell were each logged in for the entire game on the final stats.

White totaled 14 points and Roberts-Campbell had 11. Antonio Robinson had nine points and six rebounds.

"I thought we got a little fatigued at times," Lebo said. "I thought we scored enough points to win but we're trying to figure out a way to defend. They have like five guys out there 6-8 or better. We have one."

That would be Mike Zangari, who had six points in 21 minutes.

"We were trying to keep Vandenberg from getting some easy shots," Zangari said. "He was getting some lobs on some backside stuff that we needed to take away. I'm not used to 7-1 guys. We definitely struggled with it."

The Pirates have some time off before hosting Georgia State on Sunday, Dec. 29, at 1 p.m.

The ECU players thought the experience would be beneficial despite the outcome.

"We won't see anyone much better than them," Zangari said.

ECU's last three trips to the Triangle to play ACC teams North Carolina, Duke and State have resulted in setbacks by an average of fewer than nine points.

The Pirates aren't just looking to play their established neighbors close, but that's what has happened.

"We wanted to come in here and show them we were just as good as them," Richmond said.

That proved to be a tall order on Saturday afternoon.

N.C. State 90, East Carolina 79

Date: Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013
Facility: PNC Arena
Attendance: 15,217
Records: ECU 10-3; NCSU 9-2


East Carolina 38 41 79
N.C. State 45 45 90

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12/21/2013 08:09 PM