- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 16, 2002

The N.C. State Wolfpack's young pups proved more savvy yesterday than Michigan State.
In a first-round East Region matchup between two teams that rely heavily on underclassmen, N.C. State's group had to bear added responsibility when All-ACC guard Anthony Grundy went to the bench with his fourth foul scarcely more than five minutes into the second half.
Instead of crumbling, the seventh-seeded Wolfpack responded with inspired play and advanced to the second round with a 69-58 victory against No.10 seed Michigan State at MCI Center.
"I was immensely proud of the way our guys responded in the second half," Wolfpack coach Herb Sendek said. "We cut harder, and our defense picked up."
In its first NCAA tournament appearance since losing in the second round at Cole Field House in 1991, N.C. State displayed the caliber of play that allowed it to upset Maryland in the ACC tournament semifinals last week.
Michigan State had its run of three straight Final Four appearances end as the Spartans lost in the first round for the first time in five tournament trips under coach Tom Izzo.
Freshman guard Julius Hodge scored 14 of his 16 points and fellow frosh Ilian Evtimov had 10 of his 12 in the second half to pace an outstanding shooting performance by the Wolfpack. N.C. State looked disoriented through the first half, missing open shots and committing frequent fouls as the Spartans stormed to a 30-18 lead.
Sendek said he didn't make any technical adjustments at halftime. However, the break provided an opportunity to refocus, and the Wolfpack produced results quickly.
Sixteen seconds after halftime, Archie Miller drilled a 3-pointer, his team's first, to revive the Wolfpack. Grundy followed with a driving basket and Hodge scored on a backdoor cut to slice the Spartans' lead to five. N.C. State scored on its first five possessions, shot 66.7 percent and committed just three turnovers in the second half.
Still, trailing 37-31, the Wolfpack (23-10) seemed doomed when Grundy committed his fourth foul with 14:47 to go. Instead, N.C. State scored 14 of the next 16 points eight by Hodge to put the Spartans on their heels and take a 45-39 lead with 10:30 left.
"I knew when Anthony got his fourth foul that guys were going to have to step up," Hodge said. "Anthony's our heart and soul, along with Archie. As a freshman, I knew I had to step my game up and make big-time shots."
The offense came from the defense, which held the Spartans to a season-worst 32.1 percent shooting from the field. The Wolfpack took rebounds and turned them into transition opportunities, and drove aggressively past defenders in the halfcourt to draw fouls.
While the Wolfpack made their run, Grundy was relegated to an unfamiliar role of shouting and towel-waving. He played 24 minutes, his fewest in his last 16 games, but still finished with 16 points.
"I just tried to pick up everybody on our bench," Grundy said.
N.C. State's swarming press and man-to-man defense gave Michigan State (19-12) fits, particularly multi-talented guard Marcus Taylor, who scored 18 points but made just five of his 22 field goal attempts and looked genuinely impatient on offense.
"Their press really hurt us," Taylor said. "They made us rush some things, which took us out of our offense."
The Wolfpack iced it from the line, where they shot 25-for-30 in the second half and 31-for-36 for the game. But the comeback started with Miller's 3-pointer to start the second half.
"We kind of fed off it a little bit we got into our press and got it going," Miller said.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide