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NC State Basketball

Kevin Keatts: "There's So Much Parity"

March 2, 2024

NC State head coach Kevin Keatts met with the media following the Wolfpack's 79-70 road loss to No. 9 North Carolina Saturday afternoon.

NOTE: Click on the video in the player above to watch Keatts’ press conference.

Opening Statement

Well, what a heck of a boxing match. Those were some very competitive guys out there today, and it showed. We got the best of them in the first half, and obviously they did a really good job in the second half of getting the best of us. We did some good things. I thought we shared the basketball. Defensively in the first half, I thought we were really, really locked in and made things tough for R.J. [Davis] who, as you guys know, is one of the toughest guys to guard in our league. It was a good game for us. I thought there was a segment of about two minutes where we got away from us a little bit. We had a couple of things that didn’t go our way, and we didn’t respond well on both ends of the floor, but it’s a good team on their home floor. We did some good things. We’ve just got to try to figure out how to build on them and move onto our next game which is a quick turnaround. We’re probably the only team in America that’s played Carolina on Saturday and Duke on Monday without it being a tournament situation.

On the aforementioned two-minute span…

I think our shots weren’t falling. Guys can tend to get frustrated when their shots aren’t falling. I think it hurt us defensively. This isn’t a complaint, so I don’t want anyone to print it: when you look at the difference of getting to the free-throw line, them 27 times and us 16, it makes a big difference because it slows the game down, and you’re able to get some shots to go in without having to score with your offense.

On the 10-minute span without a basket in the second half…

The good thing about it is that they weren’t setting the world on fire when we were missing. They were missing shots, too, but that’s a long stretch where we just didn’t have anything. D.J. Burns not being on the floor kind of doesn’t give us the ability to score the ball inside, and he’s one of our better passers as well. Both Mo [Diarra] and Ben [Middlebrooks] are more pick-and-roll dudes, so we didn’t have anyone to play through. Also, [Carolina] locked onto our guards. I thought they did a good job in the second half with their ball-screen coverage, staying with D.J. Horne a little bit more. Jayden Taylor’s had three really fantastic games, but we did have that stretch which really bothered us.

On inconsistencies trying to put complete, 40-minute games together…

I think the other teams have a little to do with it. They play good defense, just as well as we defend at times. Sometimes, teams take away our strengths. Some of it is on us. Obviously, shots aren’t falling, and our shotmakers, we don’t have a lot of those guys. Even though we have a lot of guys on our team, we have two or three guys that really have to get going, and if they struggle a little bit during those segments, we struggle.

On trying to run with the Tar Heels…

I don’t [believe the Wolfpack ran out of gas]. When you look at the fast break points, I was mad at halftime because they had six. Well, they finished with six. I don’t think it had anything to do with running in transition. I just thought R.J. made some really good plays. Obviously, the MVP of their team for the night was [Elliot] Cadeau. He got in the lane. He made great plays. With 15 points and seven assists, he did a great job of controlling the game.

On the Wolfpack losing poise…

I didn’t think we ever got rattled. I just thought we stopped missing shots. I thought we got shots. I thought we did some good things. I thought we moved the ball a little bit. I just think we didn't make shots, but I didn’t see anyone get rattled.

On Casey Morsell’s fifth foul…

It was a tough call. I will not comment on it until I go look at it, but I don’t know if it was a foul, but they called it a foul.

On the message to the team in the locker room…

Just keep fighting. We’ve got a bunch of people that’s clogged up right now. We went on the road to Florida State against a really good basketball team at home, and they go on the road to Georgia Tech and lose. This is probably, in my opinion in my seven years in the league, the most balance that I’ve seen in the league. It’s crazy because, on any given night, anybody can beat you. Teams who may have four or five wins, those four or five wins happen to be against the top half of the league. There’s so much parity. We have to focus on our next opponent which is Duke. I’m doing a little live scouting while I’m talking here. Our focus has to be on Duke and then obviously our last game on the road against Pitt, and then you’ve got to prepare yourself for the ACC Tournament because it’s a tight race. Every team’s going to have about two games left after this, and these two games can go any way. Three or four years ago, you could look at a team that was struggling and say, “You know what? This is a guaranteed win for that school going into that.” There’s none of that. Our focus is having a short-term memory. I need Virginia to come back and have this game go into triple overtime. Obviously, it looks like they’re playing great themselves.

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