Unlike in recent games where the team dug itself an early hole, N.C. State scored the first six points, extended to a double-digit lead with 7:42 remaining in the half and cruised to an 81-70 win over Boston College Saturday afternoon at PNC Arena. It was an emotional win for the Pack, as they honored the 1974 National Championship team on the 50th anniversary of their triumph.

DJ Burns led the way with 19 points, including a perfect 5-5 from the free throw line. Coach Kevin Keatts again went with a big lineup for most of the game, as Burns, Mo Diarra and Ben Middlebrooks played a combined 72 out of 80 minutes from the center and power forward positions. Diarra had eight points and nine rebounds and was a +22 in his 30 minutes on the court. He makes a dumb play or two in every game but the team simply plays better when he’s on the floor.

DJ Horne had his streak of 20-point games snapped as he couldn’t land shots he normally hits from behind the arc, going just 1-7 on 3-point buckets. Still, he finished with 13 points. Jayden Taylor and Casey Morsell, who’ve both struggled to score here recently, helped pick up the slack in this one, scoring 15 and 13, respectively.

It was also a nice bounce-back game for Michael O’Connell, who tied Diarra with nine rebounds, while also scoring six points and dishing out six assists, all without committing a turnover in his 29 minutes on the floor. O’Connell finished with a +20 for the game.

State dominated in both points off turnovers (18-6) and second-chance points (16-6) in the game. Boston College kept it from being a blowout due to some hot 3-point shooting, as it connected on 45% of its tries from long distance.

With the win, the Pack is now in a three-way tie for fifth place at 9-7 in the conference, a game behind Wake Forest for fourth place and the double bye in the conference tournament. Wake had a big win over Duke today to move to 10-6.

Coincidentally, I was on N.C. State’s campus today but not for the game. Rather, it was an Accepted Student Day for my daughter and we sat in on a bunch of meetings that among other things discussed housing, academic programs, tuition and study abroad options. In recruiting lingo, she’s an N.C. State lean. Little does she know that getting me basketball tickets will be part of the deal should she run with the Pack.

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