Possible Concussion Forces Bryce to Sidelines

Brett Friedlander

The NC State basketball team got good news before Sunday's final nonconference tuneup with the return of guard Braxton Beverly from a back injury that sidelined him from last week's game against The Citadel.

His return, however, was offset by the bad news that redshirt senior C.J. Bryce, the Wolfpack's leader in both scoring and rebounding, will miss the game against Appalachian State.

According to coach Kevin Keatts, the 6-foot-5 wing was in concussion protocol after taking an accidental shot to the head from teammate Manny Bates during State's pregame shootaround earlier in the day.

"It's the weirdest thing," Keatts said. "We were in shootaround and our shootarounds are nothing like they used to be. We go 45 minutes, a lot of shooting and going over stuff.

"It was the last play. We were anticipating they might run a 1-2-2 press against us and we' were going over our press breaker. Somehow they broke the press and Manny gets a dunk. Somehow C.J.'s right there challenging it and (Bates) hit him with his hand right up in here (point to his chin). He was a little bit woozy and we wanted to make sure he was okay."

Bryce is averaging 16.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while shooting 52.9 percent from the floor. He is also tied for the team lead with 21 steals.

His absence left the Wolfpack with only eight scholarship players available for the game against the Mountaineers. and forced Keatts to make some last minute adjustments to both his lineup and his subsitution patterns.

The most noticeable move was that Keatts played big men D.J. Funderburk and Manny Bates at the same time for an extended period. That turned into an advantage for the Wolfpack, with Funderburk scoring a career-high 22 points and both Funderburk and Bates contributing nine rebound apiece.

"I've never had anybody that this happened to on game day," Keatts said. "So it's tough, because you have to make adjustments on the fly. It may turn out to be a blessing a little bit, not that he's hurt but the fact that we did get a chance to play D.J. (Funderburk) at a lot of four today.'

It is not known yet how long Bryce will be out. State doesn't play again until next Saturday, when it begins the bulk of its ACC schedule at Clemson.