It wasn't pretty but it was effective and perhaps the best true road test indicator that the team has facing them this year. Forget Kansas and BYU, one is a roster of all-americans that has a strong veteran presence, the other was looking to prove all of the doubters wrong and had circled that return date with a certain salivating anticipation. NC State was a raw team with a talented roster that plays in the historic ACC. You can say that we caught them at a good time because of injury issues but then again, I'm not sure if the Wildcate psyche could have been any more fragile after a humbling loss in Utah and then a couple of unsettling efforts against NAU and Cal State Fullerton.
This time, the team got by on fundamentals, good possessions, steady free throw shooting and team play. Derrick Williams was Derrick Williams, he gave us quality board work, thundering dunks, steady defensive play and was the best player on the court. he didn't force his game and allowed the opportunities to come to him. We had quality play from our backcourt, they controlled the flow of the possessions well and never let the home court rattle them past the point of no return. They fed the hot hand, points were distributed amongst the team as quality shots were taken. As a result, the FG percentages went up and a steady stream of free throw attempts followed.
NC State has a good core of young players but they are still finding themselves in establishing their own pecking order and in having someone on the court who exhibits the necessary leadership to make them a more formidable opponent. Give them time, if they find or develop that player, their inside game will be difficult for anyone to keep up with. An example would be how well they established themselves on the offensive boards. If Arizona hadn't won the turnover battle so well and thwarted the Wolfpack from establishing their offensive sets, this game could have been quite different. As it is, another team effort showed that the bench was a significant factor again in both points scored and minutes on the floor. The only blight I can mention is the regression of Jamelle Horne in that he was in foul trouble early but that produced a silver lining in the combined production from Kevin Parrom, Jesse Perry and Solomon Hill in points, boards and defensive effort. As a caveat, when Horne has one of these kinds of nights, he has tended to rebound quite nicely in future games.
Inside the box score, double digits scorers included Mr. Williams with 22, Parrom with 11 and Perry contributing 10. Perry led all glass cleaners with 6 (3 offensive) and Solomon Hill led the team in assists with 4.
Road wins like these are to be treasured and with the Pac 10 season fast approaching, this may be more representative of what the Cats can find on the road this season. The outlook is guardedly optimistic if they can give a better effort on the boards throughout the game.