Hot shooting Clemson Tigers knock off NC State Wolfpack

Raleigh, NC – The NC State men’s basketball team wrapped up the home slate of its 2022-23 campaign on Saturday afternoon with a 96-71 loss to Clemson in PNC Arena.

photo by Gene Galin

Clemson shot 59.6 percent for the game, including 62.1 percent in the first half. The Tigers’ shooting percentage was the highest given up by NC State this season.

NC State vs Clemson Box Score 2.25.23

Clemson also set season-highs for NC State opponents this season in points (96), field goals made (34) and three-point field goal percentage (52.6 percent).

The Tigers got off to a fast start as a 9-0 run gave Clemson an early 19-6 lead. After a quick 7-2 spurt from the Wolfpack shrunk the Tigers’ lead to as few as eight points, Clemson responded with a 14-2 run to push its lead to 20.

The Pack could never recover, as the Tigers took a 54-29 lead into halftime and an evenly-played second half proved to be too much for NC State to overcome.

DJ Burns led NC State with 24 points. Jarkel Joiner added 16 while Casey Morsell finished with 11 and Terquavion Smith added 10.

The Pack will be back in action for its final game of the regular season on Tuesday, Feb. 28 as the Wolfpack travels to Cameron Indoor Stadium for a matchup against Duke. Tipoff of Tuesday’s contest is set for 7 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN.

Post Game Comments

NC State head coach Kevin Keatts 

(opening statement) 

“Give Clemson a lot of credit, I thought they played really well today, us on the other hand I  didn’t think it was one of our days. What I talked about with the team was a couple of things.  Wake Forest first half I didn’t think we did a great job of defending. We outscored those guys.  We had 52 points at the half but gave up 46. I thought we did an awful job defending against  Clemson. Giving up 54 points in the first half. We fought. That is not a surprise to anyone about  this team.We are going to fight. You put yourself in a really tough hole when you give up that  many points in the first half, so disappointed. This team has been really good all year long,  we’ve had a couple games where I didnt think we defended. One of them was tonight. The other  thing is we didn’t have the same pop we normally have. When you can’t rely on your defense to  get stops, we did a better job in the second half scoring the basketball, in the first half we didn’t.  Obviously, it was just an uphill battle front that point on. The fortunate thing is we have been on  the other end of it and played well, we were able to score and defend. Today wasn’t our day and  we have to get better. As a coach that is completely on me, I’ll have them ready to lay and get  better defensively. We will take the next step that we need to.” 

(on why they didn’t have the pop today) 

“Well it’s so hard when you are playing catch up and are behind. We have never been behind at  that deficit. We didn’t defend and the game got away from us. I thought we had moments where  we chipped away in the second half. We would make a 5, 6-0 run and we would still be down by  a lot. Psychologically it bothers you a little bit. I’m not worried about our guys. It’s a tough game  

for us. We can figure out how to learn from this and we can move on.” 

(on defense in first half) 

“We haven’t guarded. A part of this is the two teams that we played in the first half have shot the  hell out of the basketball and really shot it well. We haven’t done a good job at defending. You  look at these guys, they came out and shot the ball really well. They shot the ball and Wake  shot the ball really well. Obviously, it put us in a deficit. We have been one of the best 3-point  defending teams in the conference. The last two games the guys have really shot the  basketball, especially in the first half.” 

(on moving forward defensively) 

“We have to be selfish. We talk about making a miss. The best way to get guys from scoring the  basketball is not to let them have the basketball, especially when guys have a hot hand. You  look at Brevin Galloway, he was really hot coming out of the stretch. It seemed like everybody  on their team made a three and put us in a tough situation. We have done a really good job, this  particular team, defending the three point line. It hasn’t happened the way I want it to, especially  against Wake and Clemson.” 

(on Clemson’s defense) 

“Well, I think they gap you, they do a good job. When you are playing a Clemson team, you  have to be able to create a shot for someone else. It is hard because we have two guards that  can really break you down and they can really score the basketball, but you have to be a willing  passer. It is only a second pass you’ve got because they sit in gaps and you may only have a 

second to make that pass, so you know only one or two dribbles. If you dribble more than that  you are playing against three or four guys in the gaps. If you don’t spray the ball right away then  you don’t get shots, if you do you’ll get shots. IIts tough with guys like those two guys because  they really break you down and get into the paint and create for themselves.” 

(on shape the team is in) 

“We have had a great year. If I didn’t declare we were going to win a national championship  after we played well early this year too, I am never going to declare that the season is over. It’s  a tough game. I don’t like it. They don’t like it. I am glad they feel that way but we have to move  past it and figure it out. One thing I will say about this team is that we haven’t gotten too high or  too low. We have to look at the game for what they are. Clemson was better than us today, they  were better than us.” 

(on the ‘sluggishness’ that has appeared on defense) 

“I don’t think it has anything to do with our energy. When we face really good shooters we call  them ‘green’, and we haven’t defended ‘greens’ in the right way. The three-point line has  become a great weapon and when you don’t defend the three-point line it really puts a lot of  pressure on you and we just haven’t done that. I think we ended up giving up 12 [threes] against  Wake and they made ten [threes] tonight, most of them in the first half. In the second second  half we’ve done a really good job. It’s not an effort thing, I don’t worry about effort with these  guys because these guys have played great and we’ve won 22 games and 12 conference  games. So it hasn’t had anything to do with effort. It’s just been a couple of nights where we  didn’t defend the three-point line the way we should have.” 

(on Clemson’s performance today) 

“I thought Clemson was clicking on both ends of the floor. I thought they were great. This team  hasn’t been a team that gives up 96 points. Clemson hasn’t been the team to score 96 points. I  think it was their night, they made shots, and a lot of the time when you make shots, everything  

goes well for you. Offensively, if you’re making shots, your defense becomes a little better. I  think it was one of those days, they saw a big rim, they made shots, early on we didn’t establish  ourselves defensively. I think that led to confidence and they made more shots, and that  obviously didn’t work out for us.” 

(on if defensive struggles translate to a lack of opportunities on offense) 

“For us, yes, because we create opportunities off our defense. We do a good job because we’re  a great steals team, we’re a great deflection team, when we’re not creating opportunities we can  get stagnant on the offensive end. I told the guys that we hold each other accountable for  everything that we do, and we have to get back to holding each other accountable defensively.  It’s been really two halves, it’s been the Wake Forest first half and this half where we didn’t  come out playing well defensively.” 

(on what the team has learned from Jarkel Joiner) 

“Jarkel [Joiner] is a warrior. He’s a great person and a great human being. He’s a better person  and human being than he is a basketball player and we know what type of basketball player he  is. He’s the ultimate competitor, I’m so glad that he decided to come to our program and join us.  

He’s forever a part of the NC State family even though you only get him for one year. He’s  meant so much to us not just as a coaching staff but to Wolfpack Nation and the guys in the  locker room. We’re gonna miss him. I miss all my kids, I love them all, but what that young man  has been able to bring to our program has really injected some energy on both ends of the floor  and a positive mindset.”

(on DJ Burns not participating in Senior Day) 

“We took the approach of if you were not graduating from NC State and you had a year of  eligibility left you were not gonna go through with Senior Night. Dusan [Mahorcic] didn’t want to  go through Senior Night, so he’s the only one that obviously we didn’t go through even though  he hasn’t graduated. Obviously we’re talking about whether he’s out of eligibility but we’ll see  what happens with his injury.” 

(on Jack Clark’s injury status) 

“There was a moment that there was a possibility for Jack [Clark] to play today and I got a text  this morning from our trainer that he wouldn’t be able to go and it was so close to gametime that  I didn’t have time to have a conversation about what’s the deal or the hold up. I know it’s nothing  major, but he took a nasty fall and was really sore. I don’t know when he’s gonna return. I don’t  know when he’s gonna come back. It could be two days, it could be three days, it could be a  week.” 

(on how he feels about NC State’s chances in the ACC Tournament) 

“I will say this, our fans have been really good. Give our players credit. At the beginning of the  year it was very slow. We can say pandemic, we could say lack of winning from last year. I think  you have to look at this team and the personality of this team, they’ve completely turned  everybody around. We went from not having a lot of people, and we weren’t the only team in the  country that doesn’t. Let’s make sure we understand that we’re still top four or five in the  conference in attendance. A lot of people will make a big deal about it but check the numbers  and see, we’ve still got more than ten or 11 other teams in the league. That being said, this  team earned it. Our play earned it, their personalities earned it. I want to thank those who took  the time, maybe early to look at it, and didn’t turn their back and said these guys are different,  they’re a good basketball team. They showed up and they showed up in a big way. The [North]  Carolina game was probably the loudest that I’ve heard it here. As far as Greensboro, I don’t  know. We’re gonna turn our conversation to Duke on Tuesday and we’ll try to figure out what’s  the deal. Because we don’t play on Saturday, we’ve got to wait and figure out where we’re  gonna be seeded since other teams will play on Saturday. You’re more than welcome to ask me  that question in about a week or so, I just don’t have an answer for that.” 

NC State graduate guard Jarkel Joiner 

(On how he approaches flushing today’s loss…) 

 “We’ll bounce back with our best effort. We know what type of team we are.” ·  

(On whether or not today will shake the team’s confidence…) 

 “Most definitely not. Clemson is a good team. We’ll go back and watch film to get ready for the  next game.” 

(On what happened today…) 

“We just weren’t locked in as a collective. But like I said earlier, we’ll watch film and get better  from it.” 

(On why he felt the team wasn’t locked in…) 

“It happens. It shows any anybody can beat anybody on any given night. Clemson is a really  good team. We’ve got to watch film, learn from it, and get ready for our next game in practice.” 

(On coming out sluggishly on defense for the second game in a row…)

“I really have no explanation for it. We have to do better. It’s really as simple as that.” 

(On how he turns the team around as a captain…) 

“Just watch film. We know what type of team we have when we lock in defensively. We’ve just  got to watch film and learn from it.” 

(On what he took away from playing Duke earlier in the season…) 

 “I feel like they’re a different team now. I feel like they’re better. I feel like we’re better as well. If  we come in and do what we can do we can get a win.” 

(On whether Senior Night made today feel worse…) 

“I’m just living in the moment man. Clemson is a really good team and we got it handed to us  tonight. We’ll watch film and learn from it. 

(On Coach Keatts’ message to the team…) 

“The same thing. We’re going to watch film and get ready for the next game.” 

NC State sophomore guard Terquavion Smith 

(On what Clemson did to execute against NC State…) 

 “It just wasn’t our night. We’ve just got to come back tough.” 

(On whether tonight was humbling and is an opportunity to reset for NC State…) “It shows us a lot. We fought until the end. We did what Coach [Keatts] asked us to do which is  fight until the end and finish the game out strong.” 

(On coming out sluggishly on defense for the second game in a row…) 

“I don’t know, it’s just been that way. Coach [Keatts] is going to have us prepared for the next  game and we’ll come back stronger.” 

(On his confidence on NC State regrouping…) 

 “I’m really confident. As long as they guys in this room believe in it, that’s all that matters. No  outside noise, so if we can get everybody in here to lock in and believe in it, anything is  possible.” 

( On the defense’s performance today…) 

“I don’t know, it just wasn’t our night tonight. It was their night, no doubt about that.” 

(On referencing back to other losses throughout the season to bounce back…) “Just like the Wake Forest game we had at Wake Forest, we were down and we defended well  in the second half, better than we did in the first half. We’ve just got to lock in, come back gritty, come back tough, and get it done.” 

NC State senior guard Casey Morsell 

(On what NC State can improve on from today…) 

“The things that don’t really require talent, that’s what it takes. Communicating, being focused  with scouting reports, simple and little things that play a major role in the game. Once we lock in  on those areas, we’ll turn it around.” 

( On what NC State did that played into Clemson’s favor…)

 “It all started within that first 10-minute stretch. We didn’t guard at a high level, I think we’re  really good at scoring the ball but we have to be just as good at guarding. We played a team  tonight that scored just as well as we usually score and we couldn’t stop it. We’ll learn, grow,  and move on.” 

(On Kevin Keatts’ message to the team…) 

 “The same thing. There’s a lot of basketball left, there are multiple areas of improvement that  we need to lock in on especially heading into the postseason. We just have to have a short  memory, we have another game in a few days and you have to have a short memory for it.” 

(On what he learned from playing Duke earlier in the season…) 

 “They’re definitely gonna watch this film. They’re gonna come with a similar strategy that  Clemson probably had. This is a game we’re definitely gonna have to learn from especially after  the performance we had against Duke the first time. They’re gonna learn from their mistakes  and they’re gonna expect it to be a totally different game. We’ve got to lock in and learn from  our mistakes tonight.” 

( On referencing back to other losses throughout the season to bounce back…)  “I mean for us it all starts with getting stops. Out stops lead to momentum on the offensive end  which leads to points in transition. Once we get that energy going we get on runs and are very  tough to beat. A game like tonight we couldn’t get that energy going. I don’t even know how  many we scored in transition today, but it wasn’t a lot. We’ve got to get back to who we are,  that’s the key.” 

Clemson head coach Brad Brownell 

(opening statement) 

“Got a lot of respect for Kevin and his team in our program. Kevin’s done a really good job this  year. They’re having an unbelievable season. He was coaching the fire out of those guys and  they’ve been playing about as well as anybody in our league. So for us to come here and get a  win means a lot to us and we’re very proud of that.” 

(on success guarding DJ Burns) 

“He’s a great player. Man does he have a great touch. The underrated skill is his dribbling. I  think for a guy that size to have that kinda ball control … it’s not as easy as it looks to do that.  To back guys down and make all those plays. You know he got into foul trouble in game one so  we didn’t have to deal with it as much. We’re lucky we have three guys that play the center spot,  so we have some fouls to give, we have bodies to throw at him. We tried to wear him down that  way. I don’t know if it worked. It was just a decision … We trapped him one time and he got out  and scored so we stopped doing it. We thought about it, but it’s just one of those things where  we were playing well, had a lead, and so if was just kind of different because of that.” 

(on a knockout blow) 

“We’ve had a couple over the years. It’s hard on the road, the road is different. What was more  impressive was to keep it. It’s not getting a lead, it’s keeping a lead. Getting a lead is sometimes  more challenging, especially on the road in another team’s building. If they string a couple  baskets together then the building is gonna be on fire and you have to deal with a lot. I thought  our guys did a nice job. We just held the presses really well. I thought we had pretty good poses  at half court, I thought we took good shots, and we were fortunate we made some. We made  some shots that opened things up a little bit and we scored some layups around the basket. You  have a couple games a year where things just go really well for you and you have a couple 

games a year sometimes where you just go ‘My goodness! We’re open and we can’t make one.’  Today we played great, but some of that is shooting. And we’re coming off a day were we shot it  really well against Syracuse at home, so are guys are coming in with some confidence.” 

(on important of home wins) 

“The interesting thing with our team is I bet 95% of the games this year, we’ve had the lead after  the first media timeout. This older group has gotten off to good starts. Now we haven’t been  able to hold ’em in some games, but that hasn’t been a problem. And we have a little bit of a  younger bench, and so, you know, we’ve had a couple nights where our younger bench hasn’t  been able to either sustain or play as. I thought some of my guys did. Well, I thought Dylan  Hunter was good today playing 16 minutes. Ben was good in his eight minutes. RJ was really  good in his 17 minutes. His athleticism and physicality really helped so that’s critical in these  games that you make a couple subs and you don’t have big letdowns against a quality opponent  like NC State. That’s important.” 

(on team defense) 

“Good offense is part of it, right? You know, you go on the road and you have turnovers and you  take bad shots and that can be a problem. I thought the fact that we made a bunch of shots just  really helps you get your defense set and be organized, you know, that’s not easy to do. Beyond  

that I thought we competed on the glass. I thought we got a lot. First half we felt like we got  most of the first misses. There were a couple in the second half they got and sometimes scored  on us. We got a few easy ones where we got some rebounds and because they committed  three or four off the glass, we got a couple run outs. So, I thought those were important things  too. I think you guys had 32 or 34 points between lay ups.” 

(on game plan with lead) 

“You get the lead and now Kevin’s team has to extend defense a little more and open the court  a little more and you become a little more aggressive. So sometimes, you can read more into all  this right. We all know it. Sometimes teams just make threes and some of ’em you’re guarded.  You know, we made some hard shots today too. Then when you get a lead and then teams  spread out, it’s just like the Syracuse Zone. The other night we made a bunch of threes at the  beginning, got the lead. Now they gotta spread out a little bit more, extend the defense. Now  you have a chance to get it inside, do some different things. And that, that’s part of the way the  basketball game changes based on score. It’s not always a coach’s game plan to do that, but  the game changes and your plan has to change. So, um, I just thought we were very efficient.” 

(on defense against Terquavion Smith) 

“I mean, we had a good day today, right? And some of it was because we scored and we were  able to get our defense set and I’m sure they missed some shots that they normally make. That  happens too. You press a little bit because you’re down. Shoot some, but I mean, our guys  competed. I thought our guys really fought. I thought, you know, we did some good things in ball  screen coverage. Our guys played exceptionally well today and Smith had a tough night.” 

(on Brevin Galloway) 

“Oh, it’s been really good. He’s an older player that has no fear, right? And that’s what we were  looking for just another older guy that if we went into environments like NC State, where there’s  a great crowd that he’s just gonna play he doesn’t change. So yes, he played well for us. You  know he does a lot of different things for our team. He can handle it. Some, he can initiate some  offense. He can shoot it, he can drive it a little bit. I think he’s improved defensively with us. He 

plays with poise and confidence, and I think that helps our team especially when you play on the  road and play difficult teams like NC State.” 

(on playing well with anyone) 

“You know, I do think our team, when we’re playing well, when we’re clicking, we’re a lot to  handle. Our guys have played some really good basketball. This was great because it was a big  time road win. Maybe it’s our third quad, one road wind. I think that speaks to being able to play  away from home. Sometimes that’s important, right? Like, did they beat anybody? Who can they  beat on the road? Well beating NC State’s pretty dang good. And good beating Pitt on the road.  I’m very proud of our guys.” 

(on how big it was to close the first half) 

“Yeah, we talked about it at that media timeout that we need to finish the half the right way.  We’ve had a couple halves we haven’t always finished or we have had a half that we started  and in the second we haven’t started quite as well. And we did both tonight. We finished a half  and started the second half.” 

(on PJ Hall) 

“Conditioning, confidence, and just rhythm, right? I mean, it’s hard when you’re not playing as  well and trusting that. I mean the guy had two major surgeries off season, so his knee and his  foot, and it’s hard for your mind to get back with very little practice and start a season and trust  that when you’re as big as those guys it’s just different. I mean, he and DJ Burns, they’re baby  

elephants. I mean, those dudes are big boys. You know, they’re carrying a lot of weight, their  physicality of the game. It’s hard on your feet, knees, all those kinds of things. It takes a while  for you to trust all of that, even if you have a couple good games playing through some  adversity, playing through some things. PJ’s obviously playing his best basketball right now.” 

(on stopping a run) 

“It’s really hard, the entire game. They’re a dynamic team. I mean, I think Kevin’s done an  unbelievable job this year. You know, Clemson and NC State have both vastly improved. You  know, he went and got some good players outta the portals, is coaching the fire out of him,  using them the right way, guys that fit his system. I mean, he’s done a dynamite job and they  have a terrific team and are well on their way to the tournament. So, you know, I’m happy for  him for that. I’ve been where he is. It’s hard every year. It’s not easy to have a team doing as  well as his, Last year they struggled a little bit, had a lot of difficult injuries, and now they’ve  really bounced back. You know, he’s obviously a very good coach and got them playing great.”