DJ Burns had a double-double, with 24 points and 11 rebounds to lift NC State to an overtime win past Oakland, 79-73, Saturday night in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The victory pushes the Pack into the Sweet 16, where they’ll play Friday night versus the Colorado-Marquette winner.

State won the major stat categories, as it shot better from the floor, from behind the arc and from the free-throw line. It also held a rebounding advantage. This could have been a 15-point win. Instead, the Pack was fortunate to send the game into overtime.

After leading for most of the game, State fell behind late, rallied to go back ahead and then after two free throws by 3-point specialist Jack Gohlke found themselves in a tie game with 40 seconds remaining.

The Pack worked the ball inside to Burns, who had been money all game. But Burns missed a contested shot and the Golden Grizzlies had a chance for the last shot and to win the game. But their possession went nowhere and they ended up turning the ball over with 1.7 seconds remaining. Casey Morsell had a last-minute heave that was close but came up empty and the game went into overtime.

Burns scored six points in the extra session while Oakland hit just one of nine shots it attempted in overtime for the final margin of six points.

State paid extra attention to Gohlke after he hit 10 three-point shots against Kentucky in the opening round. He still hit six shots from behind the arc. But he needed 17 attempts to accomplish that. Casey Morsell deserves a lot of credit for his effort to follow Gohlke thru all of the picks his team set for him and contest a majority of his shots.

But while they did a good job neutralizing Gohlke, the Pack was eaten up by Trey Townsend, who scored 30 points and was primarily responsible for fouling out both Ben Middlebrooks and Mo Diarra.

All five starters for State finished with at least 11 points. Mike O’Connell had 12 points and 8 assists and make a crucial old-fashioned three-point play in the final minute. Diarra joined Burns with a double-double, as he scored 11 and pulled down 13 rebounds.

Oakland played a very good game, most notably by taking better care of the ball than most opponents have done versus State in the past seven games. The Golden Grizzlies committed just seven turnovers in 45 minutes. State has been cashing in on other team’s miscues throughout this run but it scored just five points off turnovers, a key reason why the game wasn’t a blowout despite State’s advantages elsewhere.

It was not a pretty win. But this is the time of year for survive and advance and that’s exactly what the Pack did Saturday night. The regionals will be held in Dallas, where State will try to advance into the Elite Eight for the first time since 1986, the end of a run where they advanced that far three times in four years.

2 comments on “DJ Burns powers State to its seventh-consecutive win and a spot in the Sweet 16

  • AgingBull

    It was a close game between two teams that probably felt fortunate to be there. I’m riding NC State at least for another round. Marquette will be a little tougher than Oakland. Good luck!

    • Brian Joura

      My bracket has them losing this game to Marquette but after the way they’ve played in the first two games in the tournament, it doesn’t seem like an unwinnable game.

      I think they should bring back Burleson, Thompson, Towe and the rest of the ’74 team and have them sit behind the Marquette bench and yell – we were better than you in ’74 and we’ll be better in ’24, too!

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