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NC State Basketball

Kevin Keatts: "I Don't Want Moral Victories"

February 20, 2024

NC State head coach Kevin Keatts met with the media following the Wolfpack's 87-83 loss to Syracuse Tuesday evening.

NOTE: Click on the video in the player above to watch Keatts’ press conference. An abridged transcript is provided below.

Opening Statement

That was a very disappointing game. I’m frustrated on my end, and I think the frustration comes because of the first half. We’ve been a really good defense team the entire year, and to give up 55 points in the first half is not acceptable. It’s not NC State basketball. That’s not what we’re about. I don’t want a moral victory. Obviously, you can look at the second half; we played a great basketball half, but we should never put ourselves in a situation where we start the game, we don’t understand scouting reports, we give eight threes to one guy ,and we have to go in at halftime down 15. We fought, but that’s what's expected. The message to our guys is, “I’m not going to come here and pat you on the back because it was a close game.” Every game that we’ve played has pretty much been a close game. We cannot put ourselves in that position. If you want to talk about the positives, D.J. Horne is having an incredible year and probably a great six-game stretch, as good as anyone that I’ve coached for six games. I thought Ben Middlebrooks came in, gave us a good lift, and did some good things. I thought Breon Pass did some good stuff, but we’ve got to figure this out because I don’t like it. We’re going to start stacking halves, and we’re going to be better at that. I’ll accept that is on me because I’m the head coach, and we’ve got to have a way better start than we did.

On the last possession...

I wanted to get to the ball to the guy that had 32 points [Horne]. We kind of ran a screen down for Casey Morsell and took the elevator. If we didn’t have it, D.J. Burns was going to be on the block to post up and I trust [Horne] to make the right play. They did a good job of switching and didn’t give him an opportunity to make a shot, and I thought he could have thrown the ball inside.

On the halftime talk...

We talked about winning four-minute wars. “Every four-minute timeout, let’s chop the lead in half.” It took us a little longer; the game went back and forth the first eight minutes, and we talked about how you can’t exchange baskets. You’ve got to defend. We started to defend, and we got some stops, and everything worked out for us, and we got back into it. [Horne] is playing great. During a six-game-stretch, we can point at any game and say, “Hey, we needed his points,” and he’s been great. I’ve got to find one or two more guys to score with him. You guys are looking at the stats, and he’s playing hard, and I need someone to play with him.

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