North Carolina State will try to start the season 2-0 when it hosts Abilene Christian in a nonconference clash on Friday night in Raleigh, N.C.
The Wolfpack (1-0) started their season Monday with a 72-59 win over The Citadel, in which Mohamed Diarra had a double-double of 10 points and 14 boards, while DJ Burns Jr. scored 16 points. Michael O’Connell added 14 points and seven assists.
Abilene Christian (1-0) surprisingly started off its season with an upset of a power-conference opponent, taking down Oklahoma State 64-59.
It was the first time in program history that the Wildcats beat a Power Six opponent in the regular season. The last time the Wildcats beat a Big 12 team was in the 2021 NCAA East Regional, when they defeated beat Texas by a point. Three players — Immanuel Allen, Airion Simmons and Cameron Steele — were part of both wins.
Simmons was crucial to the victory on Monday, notching 11 points, 11 rebounds and four assists for the Wildcats.
“These guys just played their tails off,” third-year Wildcats coach Brette Tanner said. “We talked about composure and we had some moments where we lost it a little bit. We knew at halftime they were going to throw a punch. But we got back up and at the end of the day, we kept our composure when things weren’t going our way. Those guys found a way.”
Key for Abilene Christian in the win was its ability to limit Oklahoma State’s success from 3-point land, holding the Cowboys to a 21.7 percent shooting night (5 of 23). NC State shot 35.7 percent from deep (10 of 28) in its opener, but coach Kevin Keatts thinks improvements can be made there with more efficient passing.
“We’ve worked really hard protecting the ball, making the right play,” Keatts said. “We made shots because we made good passes. I think any team that is a good passing team is a good shooting team.”
NC State is 44-2 at home against nonconference opponents in the regular season under Keatts. The Wildcats and Wolfpack have never played each other in men’s basketball.
–Field Level Media