The gang that couldn’t shoot straight strikes again. N.C. State shot a dismal 21% from the floor in the opening 20 minutes. They trailed by 16 at the half, by as many as 21 in the second half and wound up on the short side of a 77-65 score in a conference loss at Syracuse, on a night where the Orange put Dave Bing into their ring of honor.

Coach Kevin Keatts started off the game with a bigger lineup, with DJ Burns on the bench for the first time since early last season. Both Mo Diarra and Ben Middlebrooks started the game. Neither one played well but the game was close early. At the under 8-minute timeout, the score was knotted 18-18. But it was all downhill from there.

The first half closed with State missing its last 12 shots. The Pack also turned the ball over four times in that span. Earlier, we heard announcers praising the opponents’ defense. But when bad shooting night follows bad shooting night again and again and again – it’s not good defense, it’s bad offense. There’s zero movement without the ball in the halfcourt set and without a dynamic scorer like Terquavion Smith or Dereon Seabron to bail out the offense, this is the end result.

Five times in the last eight games, State has shot 43% or worse from the field. Saturday night, a strong showing after intermission got the Pack up to 35.8% shooting from the floor, which is just dismal. And it’s a shame because unlike previous years, this State squad puts in work at the defensive end.

Part of the reason that the Wolfpack shot better in the second half is because they used Breon Pass and LJ Thomas. Those two combined to shoot 4-7 in the game. The rest of the team shot 20-60, which is no way to win a game. Here’s how the three guys who took the most shots fared:

Burns & DJ Horne: 5-14 each
Casey Morsell: 4-13

At this point, there are no easy answers. When the guys you count on to provide offense shoot this poorly, the team is simply at a big disadvantage. The only thing left for the coach to do is take playing time away from these guys and hope others can step up with additional opportunities. Our three main offenders with bad offense combined for 103 minutes played. On shooting nights like this, that number should be 25 minutes fewer.

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