On a night when LeBron James scored a career-high 61 points on just 33 shots, N.C. State's T.J. Warren put together a heroic effort of his own, helping the Wolfpack keep their very slim NCAA Tournament hopes alive in a crucial 74-67 road win at Pittsburgh. Warren poured in 41 points on 16-of-22 shooting, adding five rebounds, three assists and four steals.
N.C. State (18-12, 8-9 ACC) is still likely on the outside looking in at the tournament field, but this road win is a good start. It'll need an awful lot of bubble teams to falter down the stretch, and to make a run in the ACC tournament, but with Warren playing like he did on Monday, the Wolfpack always have a chance to get hot. Unfortunately, he often doesn't have a lot of help, and that showed in the games that State dropped to N.C. Central, Wake Forest and Miami this year, as well as in the close losses against Missouri, Syracuse and North Carolina.
This was Warren's eighth game this season with 30 or more points, and the 41 he scored Monday night were a career-high. It was a night where every shot he took seemed like it was going in:
Meanwhile, the loss for Pittsburgh couldn't have come at a worse time. While the Panthers' advanced metrics are still extremely good -- adjusted for pace of play, their offense and defense are both top 30 according to KenPom -- a lack of quality wins over tournament teams could end up hurting them. Pitt's best win is either Stanford, Clemson or Maryland, and though the Panthers aren't really in any danger of missing the field (they're already at 22 wins and will have a winning record in the ACC), they certainly haven't helped themselves much to improve their seeding.