Miami, Fl – It was a highly anticipated game heading into the new year. Both teams were on a six game winning streak and wanted to get an opening victory to begin conference play. The Miami Hurricanes came out the gates strong with a 18-10 lead and never looked back defeating the NC State Wolfpack 81-63.
Guards Ja’Quan Newton, Davon Reed and Bruce Brown led the attack on the perimeter with scoring 21,20, 17 points respectively. The Hurricanes tonight were the aggressive team on both ends of the court. All three guards took turns guarding freshmen phenom Dennis Smith Jr. with all doing a great job by holding Smith to only nine points with seven minutes to play. With the Wolfpack down by 18, Smith got hot scoring 12 points in four minutes to make it 70-59 with 3:06 to go. But in the end NC State couldn’t get stops and the Hurricanes ran away with the victory.
Newton was geared and ready going up against the highly talented Smith. Newton was consistently in attack mode ready to create off the dribble. A great addition to his game was his step back jumpshot. A year ago Newton wouldn’t have the confidence he does now in shooting off the dribble. Fellow teammate Brown truly shined tonight for the Hurricanes. At 6-5, Brown showed his versatility to shoot the outside shot while also driving to the hoop to dish it off the open man. Brown’s active energy and strong upper body makes him one of the more prolific rebounders at the guards position. He ended up with eight rebounds to go along with a team high four assists and 17 points. You could tell tonight that senior Reed is what “stirs the drink” for the Hurricanes. Although Reed scored 20 points tonight, it was the intangibles that stood out tonight. His tenacity defensively was felt throughout the game as he helped hold wing players Terry Henderson and Torin Dorn both under double figures. Also, Reed showed his leadership throughout the game by calling out plays and being the one to gather the team in the huddle.
On the other hand, NC State did not seem like a unified group tonight. The intensity and effort was not on the same level as Miami. NC State has a couple of great pieces to their team, but they need to have some more leadership rise up. One of the bright spots from tonights action was the play of Abdul-Malik Abu. Abu was very active on the glass tonight and showed promising moves down low. His great footwork and athletic abiiity helped get him open looks near the basket. What needs to improve is his finishes around the hoop. Two things that would help him is if he would use the backboard more as well as be more balanced on his turn around shots.
For 7-0 teammate Omer Yurtseven, his issue was not maintaining position down low. The freshmen from Turkey would be in the right spot but just couldn’t maintain balance to get rebounds or finish around the hoop. However, Yurtseven showed some potential by showcasing his nice mid-range jumper over Miami defenders. Fellow freshmen, Smith Jr. showed throughout the game why he is projected to be a lottery pick in the 2017 NBA draft. His ball on a string dribbling and change of pace speed wasn’t seen as much as his team needed. Smith’s dynamic one on one play as well as pick and roll action, in a way, hurt his team tonight. The offensive flow was very stagnant when Smith had the ball in his hands and he didn’t produce much for the majority of the game. Not to say he shouldn’t have the ball in his hands. There just needs to be more ball movement before Smith attacks off the dribble. But this was just the first conference game for freshmen Yurtseven and Smith. NC State is still very young and will only improve.
On January 4th, the Miami Hurricanes play at Syracuse while NC State plays at home against a hot Virginia Tech squad.
This article was written by Preston Guiot, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can subscribe to our RSS feed from the upper right corner of our home page, follow us on Facebook, or on twitter.
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