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NC State must pick up intensity in second half, says coach Kevin Keatts

On3 Staff Report03/17/23
Article written by:On3 imageOn3 Staff Report
Kevin Keatts, NC State Wolfpack coach
NC State coach Kevin Keatts chats with Terquavion Smith during a game on March 9, 2023. (Grant Halverson / Getty Images)

NC State started with a 7-0 deficit to Creighton out of the gates, but the Wolfpack managed to battle back to cut the halftime deficit to just 28-26 after battling back, pleasing coach Kevin Keatts.

Keatts didn’t seem overly concerned at halftime, knowing his team didn’t play its best basketball in the first half.

“I thought we started defending. When you look at that way we started the game we didn’t defend very well,” Keatts told sideline reporter Andy Katz at the half. “And then we got Terquavion Smith in some ball screen and he was able to make some plays.”

The Wolfpack rode Smith to get back into the ball game. He finished the first half with 14 points, scoring half of NC State’s first-half total himself.

He did it, too, while managing his foul trouble after picking up two early fouls.

“Well we’re lucky. We got out of here with two fouls,” Kevin Keatts said at halftime. “We subbed him in offensively and defensively. We’ve just got to pick our intensity up. We’re letting too many ball reversals. They’re throwing the ball over the top to the big guy. We’ve got to get the help side, we’ve got to have more ball pressure.”

On top of the more even score at halftime, Creighton also looks to have lost one of its players to injury.

Mason Miller goes to locker room hurt

Late in the first half, Creighton forward Mason Miller was defending near the top of the key and attempted to close out on a shot by Smith. As he did, his right ankle caught the top of Smith’s right foot and rolled.

Miller initially tried to get up but came up limping badly. He was helped to the bench by an assistant coach and a trainer.

The 6-foot-9 player was carried to the end of the bench where he was looked at by a trainer. After a few minutes Miller was wheeled into the locker room for further evaluation.

Though it appears to be a significant injury for Mason Miller, he is further down the rotation for the Bluejays. Miller averages 2.5 points and 1.6 rebounds per game.

UPDATE, 5:10 p.m. ET: According to sideline reporter Andy Katz, citing head coach Greg McDermott, Miller will not return to the game.

“I have an update on Miller,” Katz said. “No break, it is a sprained ankle. Greg McDermott telling me right before the half he is done for the game.”