Funderburk Finally Gets His Double-Double

Brett Friedlander

It's hard to believe that D.J. Funderburk hadn't recorded a double-double in his NC State career until Saturday.

It wasn't for a lack of trying. 

Six times over the past season-and-a-half, including four of the past six games, the junior big man had come within a rebound or two of accomplishing the feat. 

There had so many close calls lately that Funderburk knew exactly what he needed to reach the magic numbers as he and the Wolfpack came down the stretch of a 70-64 victory at PNC Arena.

 "I just had to keep rebounding," he said. "The points will come later. I don't really care about the scoring. Just keep rebounding and the points will come later and they did. They fell for me. I was just playing aggressive, trying to help my team and they just fell for me. That's all."

They've been falling a lot for Funderburk lately.

The 6-foot-10 Ohio native has blossomed since coach Kevin Keatts began using him more at power forward in a big lineup that also includes 6-11 freshman Manny Bates at center.

With more freedom to face up to the basket and more space to attack the basket and hit the offensive glass, Funderburk has posted eight straight double-figure scoring games. He has either led or tied for the team lead five times during that stretch.

At the same time, he tied his previous career high of nine rebounds three times, against Appalachian State, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech. He finally broke through with his 10th Saturday against Clemson, reaching the plateau with 6:05 remaining by rebounding teammate Devon Daniels' miss on a play that also saw him put the ball back in for his 10th and 11th points.

And finally getting that elusive double-double.

"I've been close before, but I never had it," Funderburk said when asked if he was surprised that it took this long to finally reach the milestone. "I was just happy to get one."

His coach has been more than happy with the way he has been playing of late.

Whether it's as a starter, as he's been the past two games, or coming off the bench, Funderburk has been the kind of dominant inside force the Wolfpack (13-5, 4-3 ACC) will need to make a run back toward the top of the conference standings and into the NCAA tournament after missing out a year ago.

"He’s been very important to us," Keatts said. "It’s been important."

Funderburk's emergence as a dominant inside force over the past month is all the more impressive considering how his season started. He was suspended for all of preseason camp and for State's opening game against Georgia Tech because of unpaid parking tickets and an incident in which he removed an immobilizing boot from his car.

It's a punishment Funderburk said that taught him "just not to make dumb decisions."

"I'm young," he said. "Everybody makes mistakes, but I've learned from it, I've grown from it. I'm just ready to move forward."

Judging from his recent play, he's taking the Wolfpack along with him on the ride.

 

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